If there was any lingering doubt as to whether the public option would survive the final health care motion, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ended it on Friday morning.
“We had it. We wanted it,” Pelosi told reporters at a press briefing. “It’s not in reconciliation… We’re talking about something that is not going to be part of the legislation.”
While Pelosi may be the purveyor of the bad news for progressives, she’s certainly not the culprit. The House of Representatives passed the provision in its November bill, but it was removed from the Senate version at the last minute.
“It did not prevail,” she said, while reaffirming her strong personal support for it. “What we will have in reconciliation will be something that is agreed upon, House and Senate.”
The intense debate over the controversial yet popular provision seems to have finally come to a close, as it has in recent weeks become clear that neither the White House or the Senate Democratic leadership was willing to risk the heavy lift.
Now, it appears that they have concluded it does not have the necessary votes in Congress to pass.
The Washington Post Plum Line’s Greg Sargent reported some news before Pelosi’s statement that seemed to inject optimism for the provision.
[Sen. Dick] Durbin [(D-IL)] has been taking a bunch of heat from the left since he said the other day that if a public option amendment is inserted in the reconciliation fix, Senate Dem leaders may be forced to urge Dems to vote against it in order to ensure passage of the overall bill.
But Durbin’s spokesman, Joe Shoemaker, emails to clarify:
“Sen. Durbin and the rest of the Senate Leadership will be aggressively whipping FOR the public option if it is included in the reconciliation bill the House sends over.”
The Huffington Post‘s Ryan Grim reported on Thursday that over 50 Senate Democrats have spoken on the record in favor of the public plan during the last year, including over 30 who have signed an official letter calling for a reconciliation vote on the provision. Grim wrote:
The public option faces its last stand. With more than 40 senators publicly willing to vote for a health care reform reconciliation package that includes the option, the opportunity to reinsert it into the final bill has never been greater, though the battle is nearly over without having been fought.
The process toward enactment now requires the House to pass the Senate bill before the Senate makes fixes to it with the use of reconciliation. Once both chambers have passed the amended bill, President Obama can sign it into law.
This video is from C-SPAN, broadcast March 12, 2010.