Durbin: Health bill 'doesn't have to be perfect'

Two highly influential senators suggested on Sunday that key provisions in their chamber’s health insurance reform legislation may be in jeopardy after they return from recess.

Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinJustice requires higher standard than Sessions Warren burns Mnuchin over failure to disclose assets Trump Treasury pick to defend foreclosure record MORE (D-Ill.) said that he would be willing to forgo a public health insurance option in order put a final bill to a full Senate vote soon. The Senate Finance Committee’s ranking member, Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyTrump huddles with Senate leaders ahead of Supreme Court battle Trump to announce Supreme Court pick next week Trump, Senate leaders to huddle on Supreme Court MORE (R-Iowa), said that the Senate might be better off considering an alternative bipartisan health proposal once thought to be off the table.

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The senators’ remarks underscore the uncertainty of the details of an ultimate version of healthcare reform.

"I support a public option but yes, I am open," to its absence Durbin said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Durbin stressed that keeping the three Republican senators, Mike EnziMike EnziGrizzlies, Guns, and Games of Gotcha: How the left whiffed on Betsy DeVos Live coverage: Trump budget chief faces two Senate panels Dem senator: DeVos ‘sends shivers down the spine’ MORE (R-Wyo.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), still negotiating with Finance Committee Democrats is key to passing a successful bill.

"We want to keep them in negotiations. We are determined to get a bill to the floor, it doesn't have to be a perfect bill," he said. "I don't want this process filibustered to failure."

Durbin said that getting a bipartisan bill to the floor after recess was his top priority and that the conference committee could rectify differences between the House and Senate versions, including a public option.

Finance Committee chairman Max BaucusMax BaucusFive reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination The mysterious sealed opioid report fuels speculation MORE (D-Mont.) set a Sept. 15 deadline to bring a bipartisan healthcare reform bill to a vote in his influential committee. A group of three Republicans and three Democrats have been engaged in lengthy negotiations on the bill.

Some Senate Democrats have said they would force a party-line vote if the “gang of six” do not meet Baucus’ deadline.

Durbin, however, stressed the need for patience. “We need to take the time to get this right.”

Grassley took to Twitter on Sunday to suggest an entirely different way forward on healthcare reform.

The Iowa Republican said his chamber should give the bipartisan Wyden-Bennett bill a "LookSe." That health reform proposal was considered dead until he brought it up on his Twitter account.

 “Republicans know need for healthCareReform That's why there are at least 4 Republican bills There is one bipartisan_Wyden-Bennett GiveLookSe,” Grassley tweeted Sunday morning.

The bipartisan proposal sponsored by Sens. Ron WydenRon WydenWounded Price heads toward confirmation Dems promise to stand up to FCC chair on net neutrality DeVos doesn’t know the ABCs of public education MORE (D-Ore.) and Robert Bennett (R-Utah) calls for universal healthcare coverage with private insurance companies acting as the primary insurance providers.

Grassley's comments may raise some eyebrows since he has been the lead Republican healthcare negotiator on the Senate Finance Committee.

Last week, Durbin warned other Democratic lawmakers to avoid the “sucker punch” at town hall meetings, implying the protests that have been popping up at the congressional forums were disingenuous.

On Sunday, he backed off those comments somewhat, saying that real people with real concerns attended town halls. But he also asserted that some protests are “clearly being orchestrated.”

National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman John CornynJohn CornynSenate confirms Trump's UN ambassador McConnell to force vote on Trump's State Department pick Trump continues to insist voter fraud robbed him of popular vote MORE (R-Tex.) also appeared on “State of the Union,” but dodged a question about the legitimacy of the town hall protests.