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Rockefeller: ‘No Way’ I Would Vote For Current Finance Bill

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has, for months, bent over backward to piece together a health reform proposal capable of winning at least some GOP support, which will be necessary to defeat a likely Republican filibuster. In the process, however, he’s alienating some members of his own caucus.

Sen. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who chairs the Finance Committee’s health subpanel, told reporters Tuesday that there’s “no way, in its present form, that I will vote for” the Baucus proposal. He cited the likely absence of a public option as the central reason for his opposition.

“If it stays the way it is now, or even close to it, I’m going to vote no,” Rockefeller said, vowing to offer “many, many, many” amendments to the legislation — including a public option provision — when the bill is marked up in the Finance Committee.

The statement is a bit premature. Baucus remains in negotiations with the Gang of Six — a bipartisan group of Finance members — and his final proposal isn’t expected to be unveiled until Wednesday.

Still, Baucus provided a pretty good look at what the bill will contain when he released a draft summary last week. That blueprint excludes the public option in favor of private health insurance cooperatives, championed by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). Rockefeller, however, called the co-ops “an absolutely ridiculous idea.”

It’s unclear how many other Democrats feel as strongly about the public option as Rockefeller does. The West Virginia Democrat said that, while a number of Senate Democrats want to see the public option become a part of the final bill, he’s not aware of any others who have said they would vote against the Baucus proposal as it stands.

“I know one who did,” he said. “That’s me.”

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