In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Is The Real Problem For The Public Option In The House?

Newscom / Scott J. Ferrell

By the same token, on MSNBC last night, long time public option supporter Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) suggested that a Senate-passed public option could mess up the math in the House.

"If we have a bill sent to us from the House that does not have the public option here, if we were to add it here, it would sink the whole bill," Harkin said.

Now, it's worth noting that, just last week, Hoyer himself said he still thinks a public option can pass in the House--so clearly it's a close call. But there does appear to be some doubt that the House can pass both a public option and the Senate health care bill. And perhaps that's why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (once again) took it off the table this Sunday on CNN.

Currently, 30 Senate Democrats have indicated their support for passing a public option in an up or down vote via reconciliation. And last week, in a brief interview off the Senate floor, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) said they speak for him as well. "I appreciate the fact that...other members here have expressed my feelings about the issue," he said.

Meanwhile the pressure mounts to get from 30 (or 31) to 50. But are the progressives heading that effort barking up the wrong tree?

About The Author


Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at