“I’m a cooperator.” – Sen. Chuck Schumer

schumerThat was the headline I had written for this story from last week. My editor had a slightly different idea, thankfully. But when I went into the briefing on healthcare reform, attended by Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, and Patty Murray, I found myself bemused. Now, say what you will about Reid, but he has a discerning stare that can intimidate, so I was a bit frozen in my tracks to start, but managed to get the first question in.

I asked whether, after the murder of George Tiller, Reid saw any role for Congress in encouraging people to enter that field of late term reproductive care. He deflected, but Murray took the opportunity to talk about the title she’d inserted in committee to ensure physicians of all fields would be available in proportion to newfound demand under a public plan.

When she mentioned that the Education, Health, Labor and Pensions committee expected to go to markup by this week, some of the reporters wondered at how quickly they would go from not knowing what the health plan would look like, to marking up a draft bill. But Murray assured everyone they’d spent “literally hours” on the proposal. Heartening and reassuring, to be sure. I spend literally hours watching reality television every week but you don’t see me helming the federal transition to digital tv.

Schumer then suggested he could get together with Kent Conrad to come up with a co-op alternative to the public option to try to get Republicans on board with health reform, saying, “We have lots of co-ops in this country. My apartment in New York, in Brooklyn, is a co-op. I’m a cooperator.” Let’s see how well he really cooperates with Republicans on health care this summer.

By the way, doesn’t he look spectacular in soft light?