Key Blue Dog Backs Conrad: There Aren’t Enough Votes For Public Option In Senate

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House Blue Dog Jim Cooper (D-TN) says the math just isn’t there for the public option.

“It’s really not an ideological question; it’s a question of how you pass a bill,” he explained. “We don’t have 60 Democratic votes in the Senate.”

According to The Hill, “Cooper pointed to the prolonged absences of Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), arguing that Senate Democrats were two votes short of forcing through any legislation past a filibuster, and would need to draw in at least two Republicans to support the final outcome.”

That echoes the concerns of Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), who’s a leading proponent of creating member-owned health care co-operatives instead of a public option. Kennedy’s has been battling brain cancer for over a year, and hasn’t been seen in public for months. But Byrd returned to the Senate on the eve of August recess to cast an affirmative vote on the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Cooper and Conrad may or may not be right about the public option’s prospects in the Senate. But equally worrying are the co-ops’ prospects in the House, where scores of progressives have vowed to oppose legislation that doesn’t include a government run plan.

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 brian@talkingpointsmemo.com

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