Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) says he'd likely oppose health care reform legislation if it didn't include a public option--and that he'd have company. "I think a number of Democrats, and I among them, would have great difficulty voting for a bill without a public option," Brown told me today. "I don't want to say absolutely wouldn't. But I would have great difficulty voting for a bill without a public option."
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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has similarly suggested that he'd oppose legislation without a public option.
Brown co-wrote the public plan provision in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee bill with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)--a temporary member of that panel, who has nonetheless become a vocal proponent of the idea. In his capacity as a surrogate, Whitehouse has insisted that health care legislation include a government insurance option, though he hasn't come as close as his colleagues have to drawing a line in the sand.