Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), champion of a nonprofit coop over a government-run public option, told CNBC today that Senate leadership asked him months ago to come up with an alternative. The leaders, he said, didn’t think they could get 60 votes for a public option.
“The reason I was asked to advance an alternative was it was clear at the time … that there were not the votes for a public option,” he said. With Sens. Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd ill, and one of the Minnesota seats not filled, “we only had 57 votes.”
“So I was asked to come up with something that would be a not for profit competitor that was not government run,” he said.
Conrad also said that the Senate may need Sen. Olympia Snowe’s vote to break a filibuster and bring the bill to a vote.
Appearing later on Fox, Conrad said it will be “really difficult” to resolve health care reform this year, but it can be done.
He added that it may be weeks before the Congressional Budget Office can analyze the numbers in the Senate version of the bill.