Key Sens. May Tell Obama to Fall Back on Health Care

Illustration for article titled Key Sens. May Tell Obama to Fall Back on Health Care

In the battle for health care reform, President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have more to worry about than support from across the aisle. Members of their own party, concerned about re-election in some cases and the content of the bill in others, may prove obstacles along the way. From the AP:

These factors will limit the president's ability to play his strongest card - an appeal for party loyalty and Democratic achievement - in trying to muster the 60 votes his allies will need this fall to overcome a Republican filibuster in the 100-member Senate.

Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, where Obama lost by a similar margin, said she might be willing to let some states try "fallback or trigger" mechanisms that would create a public option if residents don't have enough insurance choices.

But she told reporters, "I'm not for a government-run, national, taxpayer-subsidized plan, and never will be."

Another Democratic senator, who also may prove wary of Obama's overtures, takes the opposite stand.

"I would not support a bill that does not have a public option," said Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill. "That position will not change."

Burris' willingness to bend could prove crucial this fall if Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., need every possible vote in crafting a compromise, such as a national public option that is triggered if certain insurance availability targets aren't met.

But Burris may be in no mood to play ball. Obama and other top Democrats sharply criticized his appointment to the Senate in December by an ethically tainted governor, Illinois' Rod Blagojevich, and they forced Burris to abandon hopes of winning election in 2010 by making it clear they would not back him.

In short, Burris, 72, has virtually nothing to lose by defying his party's leaders and voting as he pleases.


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