Saturday, March 13, 2010

House Spkr Nancy Pelosi Will Not Include Public Option In Final Bill

By Huffington Post's Sam Stein & Ryan Grim HuffPost

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Thursday that she would not include a public option in a health care reconciliation package that the House will send to the Senate.

"We're talking about something that is not going to be part of the legislation," Pelosi said, noting "with sadness" that the public insurance option won't be part of legislation. "I'm quite sad that the public option is not in there," she said.

Earlier Thursday, a spokesman to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the Majority Whip, said Durbin would "aggressively whip" a health care bill that included a public option.

Pelosi, however, put the onus back on the Senate, saying that the chamber didn't have the votes needed for it.

"I'm not having the Senate, which didn't have a public option in its bill, put any of that on our doorstep," she said. "It did not prevail. What we will have in reconciliation will be something that is agreed upon, House and Senate, that they can pass and we can pass... It isn't in there because they don't have the votes."

Progressive activist Adam Green, who's been leading an outside effort to reintroduce the public option into the debate, said that Pelosi's whip count is unconvincing. "When the Senate Whip says he will aggressively whip the House reconciliation bill through the Senate unamended and onto the President's desk, the Speaker doesn't get to say the Senate lacks the votes," said Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "Mark Warner, Tom Harkin, Herb Kohl, Claire McCaskill, and other undeclared senators are not going to vote against the president's top priority, and if Speaker Pelosi refuses to even allow a vote on the public option, then she killed the public option. She needs to step up."

Pelosi is correct that the Senate bill did not include a public option, but when the upper chamber passed its legislation, the vote threshold was at 60 and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) vowed to filibuster it. But under reconciliation, only 50 votes are needed.