On Every Major Issue, D.C. Divided
By Ben Pershing
Can't we all just agree on something? The first full week of September begins with Hill Democrats divided on health care, the Obama administration divided on Afghanistan and the business community divided on climate change.
In the Senate Finance Committee, the amendment process is complete but the finish line for health-care reform is still off in the distance. Ron Wyden and Jay Rockefeller have refused so far to pledge to vote for the measure, and at least one of their votes is necessary to move the bill out of committee unless Olympia Snowe decides to back it. Jill Lawrence writes that Rockefeller has been waiting 45 years for this moment, and that the strong public-option supporter is contemptuous of insurance co-ops as well as compromise ideas like a trigger or a state-run pilot program.
Though it has become conventional wisdom that the combined Senate bill will not include a public insurance option, "the Obama White House has launched a behind-the-scenes campaign to get divided Senate Democrats to take up some version of the idea," the Los Angeles Times reports, courting moderates and monitoring the progress of potential compromises. Roll Call writes that most centrist Democrats "appear prepared to fall in line with Democratic leaders -- provided they are presented with a bill that can withstand public scrutiny in their home states." That means packaging whatever form of public option does end up in the bill as something more palatable to wary Democrats like Blanche Lincoln.
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