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Durbin, Cornyn Show Opening for Middle Ground on Health Reform

Just days into the August recess, Senators in both parties already appear to be feeling the heat over health care reform. And at least two leading Senators on Sunday showed a willingness to find some middle ground. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he is committed to getting a bipartisan bill, even if it means sacrificing a public insurance option.“It doesn’t have to be a perfect bill,” Durbin said. “I support a public option, but yes I am open. I want to make sure we do something positive for the American people.”Yet Durbin said that if bipartisan talks break down, he still wants to see Members get something done. “I don’t want to see health care reform fail,” he said, noting that it’s an opportunity that only comes along “once in a political lifetime.”But Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said that many of the current proposals amount to a government takeover of health care.While “there’s a lot of middle ground where we can meet,” Cornyn said, “I don’t see how we can make much headway” unless the public insurance option is off the table entirely.Cornyn indicated that one area of agreement is on insurance reform.Durbin said that he, too, is for insurance reform, but that the industry is standing in the way. “The health insurance industry is fighting us on this,” he said.Both Durbin and Cornyn agreed that Senators need to take time to get health reform right. In the meantime, Durbin said the disruptive protesters from both sides of the debate at town-hall meetings aren’t facilitating bipartisanship. “That isn’t helpful,” he said.Durbin added that it’s OK for the Obama administration to track what’s going on at town-hall meetings in order to dispel any myths or inaccurate information. For example, Durbin said that the government is not going to pay for abortions and that huge Medicare cuts won’t happen either. He also said that Cornyn is wrong in calling it a government takeover of health care.

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