Senators Reed and Whitehouse in Johnston, Before the Main Event

At a short press conference prior to last night’s community dinner in Johnston, I asked Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed if there was any support amongst Democrats in Congress for making the changes to the Federal tax-code that would help undo the biases against individual purchasers currently present in the health insurance market. The audio of their response is available at the link below…

A few of the other interesting items from the questions-and-answer session were…
  • In response to a question about whether the Senators expected the tone of the evening be more respectful than the tone of last Thursday’s community dinner, due to the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy earlier in the day, Senator Whitehouse volunteered that…
    “I thought we had quite a respectful crowd, the last time…”
    Look, I know that Senator Whitehouse will never be the most popular Rhode Islander on a conservative blog, but he deserves credit here, for encouraging his constituents of all ideological stripes who have come out and engaged the democratic process. Yes, that is part of the job of an elected representative, but Senator Whitehouse, as well as Senator Reed, have embraced this aspect of their jobs in response to recent events a lot more wholeheartedly than some other members of Congress — and especially those in the leadership — have done.
  • Senator Whitehouse gave an update on whether the “reconciliation” process might be used to allow a healthcare bill to bypass a Senate filibuster and pass with just 51 votes (or 50 plus the Vice-President’s?), explaining that reconciliation could be applied only to a limited portion of the content of the healthcare program that is being proposed, and he believes that…
    “…the best avenue is to continue to fight towards 60 votes.”
  • Senator Reed answered a question about whether he would support a bill without a “public option”…
    “We’re both going to work hard to make sure there is a pubic option…”
    [WRNI radio’s Flo Jonic] “That’s not an answer…”

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