Could Evan Bayh be backing off his threat to join the Republican filibuster of the health care reform bill? In a statement emailed this afternoon to Adam Green, head of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Bayh press staffer Peter True wrote the following:
Senator Bayh will support moving forward to a health care debate on the Senate floor, where he will work hard to address his concerns and craft affordable legislation that reduces the deficit and lowers health care costs for Indiana families and small businesses.
Bayh said earlier than he considers a vote for cloture the equivalent of voting for a bill. "If there are things that are in the bill that I think are just beyond the pale… I just don't think that's even worth starting a discussion on," he told The Hill. So do the remarks from his office today mean that Bayh’s more willing to support the bill now--or that his earlier stance was simply bluster to get more leverage?
Certainly Bayh hasn’t made a secret of his own agenda for the reform bill. While he says the public option isn’t a dealbreaker for him, he’s made it clear that’s he’s drawn a line on the medical device tax, given the industry's significant presence in Indiana. Bayh has already secured a promise from Reid to reduce the tax, without which “they definitely would not have my support,” as he told Politico earlier this week. It’s possible that Bayh has gotten more promises from the Senate leadership about what may or may not make it into the legislation, or perhaps felt encouraged by the concessions already made by the House in the bill released today. (The PCCC links the changing tone of his remarks to its newly released poll that potential political blowback from Indiana Democrats if he supported a filibuster.) Whatever the reason, his remarks certainly hint at a positive development for the Democrats. Now they just need his word that he won't filibuster the bill after it reaches the floor.
Update: Kent Conrad just told Greg Sargent that he'll vote to bring the Senate bill to the floor.