No trigger this week, but the idea lives on

NO TRIGGER THIS WEEK, BUT THE IDEA LIVES ON…. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) has concluded the Senate Finance Committee bill, which we’ll likely see tomorrow, won’t have a “trigger” mechanism for a public option. Ezra Klein noted that Snowe’s comments on this seem a little odd.

Asked about the public option trigger on CBS’s Face the Nation, Sen. Olympia Snowe was clear and unequivocal. “It’s not on the table,” she said. “And it won’t be.”

Huh? This was, after all, Snowe’s idea.

Initially, I had the same reaction. Snowe told reporters this morning, “It probably will be a straight co-op at this point. We did not discuss the trigger to be part of the co-op, at least in the framework we have before us.”

So, what’s up? Is Snowe moving away from her own idea? Is the trigger done for? Not really. I did some digging on this earlier and it seems Snowe’s comments were only in the context of the Finance Committee bill, which was never likely to have a trigger anyway. Snowe brought up the idea as far back as the spring, and encouraged the Gang of Six members to consider it, but her Republican colleagues rejected it out of hand. No matter what the Finance Committee agreed to, the trigger wasn’t going to be part of the equation.

But the idea may yet gain traction, because the Finance Committee bill isn’t the be-all, end-all version of the reform legislation. More to the point, the White House is going to have a hand in the process, and if Snowe wants a trigger, and she’s the 60th vote, it may yet happen.

By all accounts, Snowe still backs the provision as a “compromise” move. Baucus’ plan ignores the idea, but it may reappear in the coming weeks.