Burris's Health Care Demands Grow Louder

Burris loves the spotlight

By Andrew Greiner
|  Wednesday, Dec 16, 2009  |  Updated 9:45 AM CDT
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Senator Roland Burris has watched over the past few weeks as his Senate colleagues bent and morphed to accommodate Sen. Joe Lieberman's health care demands.

Lieberman, who is considered a key 60th vote for a Democratic health plan said he wouldn't support a bill that included a public option or a Medicare buy-in clause. So Senate Dems edited and redacted and rearranged language to strip the bill of its progressive meat. 

Burris, the scandal-plagued senator from Illinois, has long said he won't support a bill without a public option and cost controls reiterated his demands this week. His statements, which allow for some wiggle room on the public option, suddenly have teeth.

“I am committed to voting for a bill that achieves the goals of a public option: competition, cost savings and accountability,” Burris said on the Senate floor Monday. “I will not be able to vote for lesser legislation that ignores those fundamentals.”

While Burris made similar statements in the past, his voice becomes proportionately more important as the bill moves closer to becoming a reality.

Burris is in the (un)fortunate position of being able to stand up for his principles. He's not running for a full term -- and probably wouldn't win one if he did -- so he has no voters to please. Therefore, he says, he's demanding a few concessions of his own.

“My colleagues may have forged a compromise bill that can achieve the 60 votes that will be needed for it to pass. But until this bill addresses cost, competition and accountability in a meaningful way, it will not win mine.”

Even if it means bucking his party and the president whose senate seat he now fills.
 

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