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Durbin: Democrats May Have to Oppose Health Amendments They Like

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Wednesday that leaders will have to ask rank-and-file Democrats to vote against health care amendments they may support once a reconciliation bill comes to the Senate floor.

“We have to urge members to stick with the basic bill,” Durbin told reporters. “And we know Republicans are going to offer a ton of amendments as they always do and we know that if an amendment is adopted, it stops or slows down the process. We have to get this done and move on to more jobs bills.”

House and Senate leaders have been attempting to craft a budget reconciliation measure that would address House Democrats’ concerns with the Senate-passed health care bill. The Senate’s ability to promise to approve — without amendment — the reconciliation bill is a key part of Congressional Democrats strategy for passing a comprehensive health care bill this year. House Democrats are unlikely to send the larger Senate measure to the president without a guarantee that Senate Democrats have the 51 votes necessary to pass the reconciliation changes.

Meanwhile, Durbin said leaders have not yet decided whether to include a student loan reform bill in the reconciliation package.

“If the addition of the student loan — ending the student loan subsidy to big banks and Sallie Mae — helps us pass health care reform it should be included. If it hurts us, then we can’t include it,” Durbin said.

Ending student loan subsidies for banks is controversial because many Republicans and some Democrats oppose the notion of eliminating an incentive for private banks to loan money to students.

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