Senator Charles Schumer has signed the Bennet letter on the public option. That brings the total number of Democratic Senators open to using reconciliation to finish health reform up to 32, and the number in favor of using the public option in that process up to 18. See the whip count here.
We also have a response from Senator Maria Cantwell's office. Open Left user RubyK writes in:
XXX from Cantwell's office got back to me. His short answer was "we're studying it with caution"
His longer answer was:
Senator's been in Washington state, doing business there and he hasn't checked in with her on this yet. She will be back in Washington [DC] next week.
"We're studying it with caution" b/c she's had and expressed concerns for using reconciliation for larger sweeping changes.
As a general rule doesn't want to use a process to end run, use something like reconcilliation to pass something so big.
He told me: she hasn't given up on health care, and reminded me she's a supporter of public option
He lastly suggested this to me, one of her reasons for hesitation on reconciliation generally would be that it would create a ten year sunset, which would make it more unstable, and with the health care system needing stability, going back to this in ten years might cause more problems.
Well, at least it wasn't a no. Even if that isn't the sort of answer we wanted, it is still useful information. Cantwell appears to be one of the recalcitrant Dems on reconciliation.
If your want to help push the undecided Senators in the right direction, click here to contact one of them.
Update: Jeanne Shaheen signs on, making the totals 33 and 19.