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September 29, 2009

Senate Finance Committee Rejects Public Option

15-8. This was an expected vote, but... still. Something, I guess.

Schumer and Rockefeller are not so easily deterred, however, and say they will offer the public option via amendment.

Tom Harkin claims they've got 51 votes for it, and he thinks he's got 60 votes to break a filibuster.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa.), the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, said that the Senate "comfortably" has a majority of votes to pass the public plan, and that he believes Democrats can muster 60 votes to break a filibuster.

"I have polled senators, and the vast majority of Democrats -- maybe approaching 50 -- support a public option," Harkin said told the liberal Bill Press Radio Show. "So why shouldn't we have a public option? We have the votes."

"I believe we'll have the 60 votes, now that we have the new senator from Massachusetts, to at least get it on the Senate floor," Harkin later added. "But once we cross that hurdle, we only need 51 votes for the public option. And I believe there are, comfortably, 51 votes for a public option."

Um, the problem with that is that he assumes the public will be fooled by people who vote to end the filibuster (actually, just voting for cloture) but vote against the actual government-option amendment. He thinks they will be able to claim they voted against the measure and so protect themselves politically.

The public knows about this trick, and doesn't buy it, as was demonstrated last summer when the cloture vote on amnesty was billed, as it was, as the "real" vote on amnesty. Anyone voting for cloture on the government option is voting for the government option, no matter how they position themselves on the meaningless follow-up bill. The same as with amnesty. If it's guaranteed the bill will pass once cloture is voted on, then cloture is indeed the "real" vote.

Democratic Senator Ben Nelson, meanwhile, lays out what seems to be an impossibly high threshold -- he says any health care bill will not need 51 votes, nor 60, but a full sixty-five if it is to be accepted as legitimate.

So he seems to be telegraphing that he's not voting for it without significant Republican cover-- which he almost certainly won't have.


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posted by Ace at 03:52 PM

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