Two Senate negotiators Wednesday afternoon pushed back against Majority Leader Harry Reids (D-Nev.) announcement of a broad agreement on a hybrid public insurance option by a group of 10 moderate and liberal Democrats.
Moderate Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), two participants in the group of 10, said the negotiators only agreed to send the proposal to the Congressional Budget Office for costing after concluding no further decisions could be made on a potential compromise without that information.
Reid announced the agreement late Tuesday evening during a hastily arranged news conference with Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.), the two Senators described as leading the group of 10 discussions.
Reid essentially described it as a milestone in his effort to put together a 60-vote coalition and clear the bill off the floor before Christmas.
Landrieu and Lincoln said the plan submitted to the CBO is attractive, depending on cost and other factors.
Theres no specific compromise. There were discussions, Landrieu said during a news conference to discuss proposed small-business amendments to the health care reform bill. Until the package that was sent is scored, we really dont even know whats in it.
There was a lot of agreement to send a package. But until its scored we really just cant talk about the specifics, because the scores will have a great effect on whats ultimately done, Landrieu added.
Lincoln, who joined Landrieu at the news conference, reacted similarly when asked if she had agreed to the compromise to the public insurance option that the group of liberal and moderate Democratic Senators spent nearly a week negotiating.
We worked very hard and we worked collaboratively to try to come up with solutions and listen to one another, Lincoln said. We got to a point where we couldnt go any further until we got CBO scores. And so, all of the different ideas and things that were on the table in order to move to something that was more final, we couldnt get to without CBO scores.
There are a lot of things on the table. And until we hear back from CBO, its going to be hard to see whatever I can support, for sure, Lincoln added.
The Democratic Conference is scheduled to hold a special caucus Wednesday afternoon at 5 p.m. to discuss the potential compromise, which would replace the national, government-run insurance company with an opt-out for the states that would be created under the current Senate bill.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.