WASHINGTON--Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.)--who had billed himself as the crucial 60th vote the Democrats needed in the Senate--is breaking from the pack, saying Wednesday he will oppose any health care bill that does not have a public insurance option.
"I firmly believe in a public option and will oppose any bill that does not include one. Illinoisans have seen their insurance premiums skyrocket, while more and more families lose their coverage every day," Burris said in a statement.
Burris could be the one senator immune from pressure from any precinct. Appointed in a controversial move by the tainted now former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is facing criminal charges, Burris is not running to keep the seat in the 2010 election. He had little choice in deciding not to run; the Democratic establishment lined up against Burris believing he was too politically weak to retain the seat once held by President Obama.
Since White House and Senate power brokers David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel and Dick Durbin tried to recruit someone else to run for the Senate seat Burris now holds--Burris--who has known them from years--owes them nothing.
Could be interesting. Burris is the one senator with nothing to lose and with limited opportunity to make some kind of mark in the chamber before he has to leave.
Below, from Burris....
United States Senator Roland W. Burris Becomes First Senator to Take Firm Stand on Public Option
Burris Vows He Will Only Support Healthcare Bill That Includes Public Option
Washington D.C.--Today, following the release of the Senate Finance Committee's healthcare reform plan, United States Senator Roland W. Burris made the following statement about his strong belief in a public option:
"I firmly believe in a public option and will oppose any bill that does not include one. Illinoisans have seen their insurance premiums skyrocket, while more and more families lose their coverage every day.
"We need real reform now. The inclusion of a public option as a central component to any healthcare reform legislation is the only way to create meaningful competition with the insurance companies, and in turn, bring down costs and improve quality of care for the people of Illinois and all Americans.
"Following President Obama's healthcare speech last week, there is a great deal of momentum to fix the healthcare crisis, and I am committed to working with the White House, Senate leadership, and my colleagues to achieve consensus and to affect change on this critical issue. I am confident we will pass this legislation before the end of the year, and I look forward to casting my vote in the United States Senate for a healthcare reform bill that includes a public option."