Just hours after Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced that he’d whip “aggressively” for the public option if the House includes it in its reconciliation bill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) killed the idea. The Washington Post quotes Pelosi saying today that the public option won’t be a part of the health reform legislation the lower chamber plans to take up shortly:
“I’m quite sad that a public option isn’t in there,” Pelosi added. “But it isn’t a case of it’s not in there because the Senate is whipping against it. It’s not in there because they don’t have the votes to have it in there.”
It didn’t take long for liberal groups to go on the attack. “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,” Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a just-released statement. Green has been drumming up support for the pubic option, getting 41 senators in the Democratic caucus to commit to the proposal.
We have 41 yes votes on the record — and it’s ridiculous to think Tom Harkin, Jay Rockefeller, Herb Kohl, Claire McCaskill, Kay Hagan, Robert Byrd, and other undeclared senators are going to vote against the president’s top domestic priority on the final vote. If Speaker Pelosi refuses to even allow a vote on the public option, than she killed the public option. It’s time for her to step up.