Sestak: I’d Have A Hard Time Voting For A Health Care Bill Without A Public Option


He left himself some wiggle room, but, in what appeared to be a challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) said he’d have a hard time voting for a health care bill without a public option.

Sestak is challenging Specter in the 2010 Democratic Pennsylvania primary.

Though Sestak said he could back something “similar” to a public option–a co-operative, for instance–he said that the co-ops that are on the table right now do not meet his criteria.

Specter now supports the creation of a public option, after having opposed it as a Republican and in his first days as a Democrat, but he hasn’t drawn a line in the sand over the issue. Though progressive members of the Senate have been more reticent than their House counterparts about the importance of the public option, Sestak’s statement does leave Specter an opening to stake out more liberal ground, and insist on one.

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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