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Schumer: Moderates Likely to Warm to Senate Health Care Plan

Democratic Senators in favor of including a public insurance option in health care reform expect resistant moderates — including Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) — to come around once they see the details of the final legislation.

Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said Wednesday that moderates are likely to climb on board once they read the final bill, which is currently being analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office. Schumer included Lieberman in that group, despite the fact the Connecticut Senator said Tuesday that he would vote against legislation that includes a public insurance option.

“I thought the fuss made about what Sen. Lieberman said was greater than I anticipated,— Schumer said. “In fact, the fact that he said that he was definitely voting to move to proceed — on a motion to proceed — we regarded as a good sign, because he was one of the four or five people who in our view, hadn’t privately committed to that.—

“We all know that the bill that emerges after weeks of debate on the Senate floor is not going to be the same one that leader Reid submitted,— Schumer added. “And I talked to Joe Lieberman later in the day and said, just keep your options open.—

Lieberman, who caucuses with the Democrats, created a firestorm Tuesday when he said he would support a motion to proceed to begin the debate on the health care bill, but that he would not vote for cloture to end debate and move to final passage, if the legislation continues to call for a public insurance option.

Other Democratic centrists who have voiced concern about the public insurance option have so far been coy about how they would come down on procedural votes once health care reform hits the floor. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Monday that he would move ahead with a health care reform bill that includes a public insurance option with an opt-out provision for the states.

Schumer, flanked by Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) during an afternoon news conference to promote the public insurance option, said he expects that opposition from moderates would soften in the coming weeks.

“I think as the Members learn the details of what’s in it, they’re going to see that it is a true attempt to be a level playing field, not some covert way of getting single-payer — which is what the right-wing drumbeat has been — and they’re going to be very comfortable with it,— Schumer said.

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