Pretty soon, Barack Obama is going to have to step in and referee the fight over the public option. No matter what the squabbling Senate Finance Committee winds up agreeing on, it’ll be Obama, together with Harry Reid, who decides what the Senate ultimately votes on, and how that bill is combined with the House's plan. One rep tells Politico that Obama will act as a “cleanup hitter” for the public plan.
Much depends on whether Obama insists on getting 60 votes, or will settle for 51. It’s possible he could ask Democrats to vote to break the filibuster, then let them vote as they please on the actual bill. The Finance Committee “was the toughest terrain for us,” says Chuck Schumer. “It gets easier on the Senate floor, and it gets easier still in conference.” (Read more public option stories.)