Release: Senate Majority Leader Agrees to Senate Vote on Public Option

WASHINGTON, March 19 - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today told Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that he would work to ensure a Senate vote "in the coming months" on a health insurance public option.

In a letter to Sanders and Merkley the majority leader said: "I am a strong supporter of a public option, and I included the HELP Committee's public option in the bill I brought to the Senate floor last year. I was very disappointed when it became clear that we did not have the votes to keep it.

"Nevertheless, like you, I remain committed to pursuing the public option. . . As we have discussed, I will work to ensure that we are able to vote on the pubic option in the coming months."

Sanders said: "I very much appreciate Majority Leader Reid's continuing support for a public option and I am grateful for his commitment to bring legislation before the full Senate within the next several months.  It's imperative that we have a vote on this issue and I'm glad that is going to happen.

"We need to add the public option to health care reform because the American people must have the right to choose a Medicare-type public option as opposed to just private insurance company plans.  Further, a public option will provide much needed competition to the insurance industry and help us hold down skyrocketing premiums. It is my judgment that a majority of members in the House and Senate would support a public option when it comes up for a vote."

To read the letter from Sen. Reid, click here.