Facing the threat of a filibuster by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CN) over the public option remaining in Democrats’ health reform bill, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) does not seem gravely concerned.
Should Lieberman try to prevent the bill from coming to a vote, “there are other ways that we have to proceed,” Sanders told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Monday. “I would strongly support those other ways.”
Sanders was referring to budget reconciliation, a bureaucratic tactic that has been used repeatedly to push through Congress controversial measures that could not acquire a super-majority of 60 or more votes. Under reconciliation, a measure only needs a simple majority of 50 votes to pass.
Sixty U.S. Senators currently caucus with Democrats.
While congressional Republicans tend to howl at even the threat of such a measure being used to pass legislation they are opposed to, the GOP used reconciliation against Democrats in 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2005, according to MSNBC host Keith Olbermann.
“The American people overwhelmingly want a public option, for a variety of reasons,” Sen. Sanders said. “Correctly, they want a choice between a private insurance company and a Medicare-type plan, and they should have that choice. And, maybe even more importantly, if we’re serious about cost containment — if we’re serious about the United States now spending almost twice as much per person on health care as any other country — you’re going to need somebody, some entity, competing with the private insurance companies so they don’t continue to raise their rates and raise their rates. And that’s what a public option does.”
Also appearing on MSNBC Monday was Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who predicted on Keith Olbermann’s program that a package of health reforms would pass before Christmas.
This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Nov. 9, 2009.
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