An amendment requiring nearly all elected officials to enroll in the public option is meant to put them into the same "purgatory" as ordinary people, said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) on Monday.
The measure, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) would force the president, vice president, cabinet members, staff and members of Congress and their staffs to join a public plan should heathcare reform pass.
"If you're gonna put the American people in that kind of a purgatory, then you've got to make sure that members of Congress feel the same sort of pain," Thune told The Hill. "If there's going to be some sort of government-run public option that's forced upon the American people, then their elected officials ought to be under the same rules."
Coburn said the measure is intended to hold accountable a potential public health insurance option. If the president and Congress are on it, he told the Huffington Post, then they will insure it will perform well.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and Coburn introduced an amendment last week that would force just members of Congress onto the plan. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) later accused the duo of barring them from co-sponsoring the amendment. Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Brown then asked for unanimous consent to be included as co-sponsors, which they were granted.
A Coburn spokesperson told Huffington Post that Democrats are encouraged to co-sponsor the measure.