"Harkin says Senate has the votes to pass a health care bill with a public option."
As it reconvenes its health care mark up today, the Senate Finance Committee is set to debate three versions of a public option that could be inserted into the committee’s bill. At the same time, a top Senate Democrat said today that he has the votes to pass a bill that includes a government plan through the entire Senate. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who recently took over as chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told Bill Press that Democrats “comfortably” have the votes for a public option:
“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.”
Though a version of the public option isn’t expected to make it out of the Finance Committee, supporters such as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) say that “the Senate floor is more favorable to the public option than the Finance Committee, and [negotiations with the House are] more favorable than the Senate floor.” ”