Nearing a tenuous agreement on health care reform that is likely to hobble or abandon the public option, Senate leaders now face another filibuster threat -- this one from the left.
Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), who has said for months that he would vote against any bill without a public option, went a step further on Tuesday night, vowing to support a filibuster of the final bill delivered from conference with the House should it lack a public plan.
"If we have to get 60 and it comes back and it does not have a public option in it, I will not vote for it. It will still take 60 votes to pass it," Burris said at a rally for public option supporters across the street from the Capitol. As he was speaking, the so-called "gang of 10" was meeting to cut a deal -- and the public option.
"If we don't pass a meaningful health care reform bill in this session, we are all going to hang separately," Burris said. "I've listened to my constituents."
Senate leadership has taken the threats of Burris, and fellow public-option advocates Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), less seriously than those of conservative Democrats and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who reiterated Wednesday that he will filibuster any bill with a public option in it.
They will, however, likely need the votes of every last public-option supporter to defeat a filibuster of the final bill. Burris, who like Sanders originally supported a single-payer system, said he is done compromising on the public plan.
"Understand that I have drawn a line in the sand," he said. "I'm not much of a dealmaker in this regard."