Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on Friday afternoon that he would work with other Democrats and the White House to pass a public option through reconciliation if that's the legislative path the party chooses.
"Senator Reid has always and continues to support the public option as a way to drive down costs and create competition," said Reid aide Rodell Mollineau in a statement provided to the Huffington Post. "That is why he included the measure in his original health care proposal. If a decision is made to use reconciliation to advance health care, Senator Reid will work with the White House, the House, and members of his caucus in an effort to craft a public option that can overcome procedural obstacles and secure enough votes."
This represents a major breakthrough for those Senators and activists who are pushing to get a public option considered via an up or down vote.
Reid has always been a proponent of the provision. But he has deflected questions about using reconciliation to get it into law citing a potential lack of votes needed for passage.
His promise to work with others to include it in reconciliation hardly means the public option is a done deal. The House, in all likelihood, will still have to vote on the Senate's health care bill with the promises of changes to come via reconciliation. Whether that obstacle can be overcome isn't entirely clear. Nor is it certain that the 51 votes are there to get the public option passed using reconciliation or, for that matter, what that public option will look like.
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