Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) cast serious doubt tonight on whether conservative Democrats will ultimately vote for cloture on the Senate health care bill if it retains a public option with an opt-out clause, and gave new details on yet another compromise that he says might work for them.
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Carper, who voted for a public option amendment during the Senate Finance Committee proceedings, first floated his idea last week as a potential alternative, in the event that Reid's public option proposal failed to muster enough Democratic support to overcome a filibuster. Now he says he doubts the support is there.
"We're concerned that a number of centrists aren't prepared to vote for a national public plan, even with an opt-out," Carper said in response to a question from TPMDC. "We're trying to find something that addresses their concern about government run, government-funded, but still addresses the need for the affordability needs and the need for more competition in states that don't have it."
"What we're asking centrists is, What concerns do you need to have addressed so that you can vote for cloture, either to bring the bill to the floor, or to take the bill off the floor and to go to conference? And the two concerns we keep hearing over and over again: government-run, government funded."
(The opt-out plan Reid has proposed would not be government funded, though it's not clear whether it would be run directly by the government, or outsourced to a non-governmental body accountable to Congress.)