Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, is leaving no doubt about his view on the prospect for a health care bill containing the so-called public option. “Let me put it this way, we will have a health reform bill on the president’s desk by Christmas. That bill, that he will sign, will have a public option in it,” Harkin says.
Harkin spoke with reporters today in a conference call, and was less committed when asked if he would ever support a bill without a public option. Harkin says they are working to get the bill together and says there are some “very delicate” negotiations going on. “I don’t like to take absolutes on what I might do in one situation or another. I just will repeat for the record. The final bill that goes to the president will have a public option,” Harkin says.
Harkin says the bills from the House and Senate have a lot of the same provisions and he believes they will be able to put both together in an acceptable form. He says merging the two will not be a walk in the park, but he says it will also not be overwhelming. Harkin is the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has passed one version of the Senate bill.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, is on the Senate Finance Committee which is working on another version of the health reform bill. Grassley said this week he didn’t believe the public option would have the votes to pass.