Schumer Joins New Push for Public Option

91239605 4 Schumer Joins New Push for Public OptionSenator Chuck Schumer just announced that he’ll sign a new letter pushing majority leader Harry Reid to allow a vote on the public option.

“I just added my name to [the] effort to pass a public option through the reconciliation process, and I wanted you to be the first to know,” Mr. Schumer wrote in an email to supporters. He’s the first of the Democratic leadership in the Senate to do so.

He credited four senators–Michael Bennet, Sherrod Brown, Jeff Merkley, and fellow New Yorker Kirsten Gillibrand–for renewing the public option push, which had been axed as part of a series of compromises to create a filibuster-proof bill. (That idea died last month, when Massachusetts elected Republican Scott Brown, who opposes the bill.)

Though Mr. Schumer makes 17 senators who have signed on to the letter, Mr. Reid has so far seemed unwilling to press the bill, indicating he doesn’t have the votes. The signature of Mr. Schumer–a close confidant of Mr. Reid, and one of the principal negotiators of the health care bill–might signal a renewed push for the public option, or it might simply be a Hail Mary.

“This is far from a done deal, but it’s an opportunity to break through the obstructionism Republicans have pushed for the past year,” Mr. Schumer wrote to his supporters.

Mr. Schumer’s email, in full:

As you know, I’ve been committed to a strong public option throughout the entire health care reform process.

First it was in the Senate bill, then it was out. But now, thanks to the tenacity of a group of four Democratic Senators — Michael Bennet (CO), Sherrod Brown (OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), and Jeff Merkley (OR) — there is a renewed push to create a public option as part of health care reform.

I just added my name to their effort to pass a public option through the reconciliation process, and I wanted you to be the first to know.

This is far from a done deal, but it’s an opportunity to break through the obstructionism Republicans have pushed for the past year.

Let’s keep fighting,
Chuck Schumer