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Rockefeller Amendment for a Public Option Fails 15-8

Senator Rockefeller’s public option amendment offered in the U.S. Senate Finance Committee went down in flames today.

The implications for Speaker Pelosi are profound. Her insistence on a public option in the House bill will force even more Democrats to vote no, and the chances that it will become law are small.

Rockefeller is threatening to offer the same amendment on the Senate floor, but now Rockefeller is between a rock and a hard place since he has publicly said he will not vote for any health reform bill that does not have a public option.

Senator Cantwell made the same threat. But, meanwhile Senator Harkin claims he has whipped his Democratic colleagues and he says “we have the votes” for a public option.

There is substantial doubt about Harkin’s claim, but regardless, either Senators Rockefeller and Cantwell follow through on their threat, or their threats, now and in the future will be meaningless. I wonder if that means they will vote no on final passage in the Senate Finance Committee, forcing Chairman Baucus to find a Republican vote to move the conceptual language essay to the Senate floor?

Here is the roll call vote in the Finance Committee.

Republicans
CHUCK GRASSLEY -no
ORRIN G. HATCH -no
OLYMPIA J. SNOWE -no
JON KYL -no
JIM BUNNING -no
MIKE CRAPO -no
PAT ROBERTS -no
JOHN ENSIGN -no
MIKE ENZI -no
JOHN CORNYN -no

Democrats
MAX BAUCUS -no
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER -yes
KENT CONRAD -no
JEFF BINGAMAN -yes
JOHN F. KERRY -yes
BLANCHE L. LINCOLN -no
RON WYDEN -yes
CHARLES E. SCHUMER -yes
DEBBIE STABENOW -yes
MARIA CANTWELL -yes
BILL NELSON -no
ROBERT MENENDEZ -yes
THOMAS CARPER -no

Not Agreed to (15-8)

Senator Schumer’s public option light amendment also failed, with Sens. Max Baucus, Kent Conrad, and Blanche Lincoln voting with the Republicans to defeat the amendment.

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