Finance Committee Rejects Public Option

Sep 29, 2009 3:39pm

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports: After five hours of debate, the Senate Finance Committee this afternoon voted down Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s proposal for a public option to compete with private insurers. Though a majority of the committee’s Democrats supported it, the amendment was defeated overwhelmingly, 15-8. The proposal sought to create a public health insurance option that would set rates like Medicare does. The committee’s chairman, Sen. Max Baucus, strongly suggested that he supported the concept of a public option — but said he was constrained by trying to find a bill that would draw 60 votes. “My job is to put together a bill that becomes law,” said Baucus, D-Mont. “I can count. Nobody has shown me a bill with a public option that gets to 60. So I am constrained to vote against the amendment.” UPDATE: The Schumer market-responsive public option amendment has now failed. It was called at 3:50. The vote was 10-13. Three Democrats opposed. Two Democrats (Bill Nelson of Florida and Tom Carper of Delaware) voted for Schumer’s amendment after opposing Rockefeller’s. But Sens.  Max Baucus, Kent Conrad and Blanche Lincoln still opposed. Conrad says we should have a private system like the one in Germany. Baucus said he is still constrained by the public option not being able to get 60 votes. Lincoln would rather not be having this debate and hasn’t said much of anything. Schumer said he’ll continue trying to get 60 votes for some kind of public option. UPDATE: Sen. Schumer’s more market-responsive public option amendment failed too. The vote was 10-13 with three Democrats opposing it. Two Democrats (Bill Nelson of Florida and Tom Carper of Delaware) voted for Schumer’s amendment after opposing Rockefeller’s. But Sens.  Max Baucus of Montana, Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas opposed both amendments. Conrad said the US should have a private system like the one in Germany. Baucus said he is still constrained by the public option not being able to get 60 votes. Lincoln, locked in a tough reelection fight in the conservative state of Arkansas would probably rather not be having this debate and hasn’t said much of anything at the Finance Committee markup. Schumer said he’ll continue trying to get 60 votes for some kind of public option.

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