Key Senator: With Franken Seated No Need for Compromise on Public Option
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The next few weeks, as Schumer noted, could be the most critical yet in the process of crafting a health care bill. The Finance and HELP committee will begin seeing how and where their two bills can be combined. At the same time, lobbying efforts are expected to be stepped up on the Hill, with the targets likely to be Democrats already skeptical of the public plan.
That said, the past week included two key breakthroughs for progressives hoping to lead the reform process. The first was the Congressional Budget Office scoring the HELP committee's proposal at a relatively slim $600 billion. Though Schumer noted that the figure could rise with amendments, he added, "what the CBO is saying, if you're a fiscal conservative you ought to be for a public option because it saves money."
The other advance was the seating of Al Franken as Senator of Minnesota, which, theoretically, should give the Democratic Party the voting margin it needs to withstand a Republican filibuster.
"I think Democrats, now that we have 60, it's an opportunity but it's a greater responsibility," said Schumer. "And unity among ourselves is very important."