- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford flubs daylight saving time advice: ‘Turn your clocks back’
- Americans don’t support sending U.S. troops to Ukraine
- Florida lawmakers move to wipe corrupt ‘Boss Hogg’ town from map
- N.C. math whiz to unveil secret of March Madness picks
- An appealing offer: Chiquita merges with Fyffes to make world’s largest banana firm
- Amnesty International says Syria guilty of war crimes for food blockade
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: ‘We are going to crush them’
- Adam Lanza’s dad: He would’ve killed me ‘in a heartbeat’
- North Korea holds election: 100% turnout, Kim Jong-un gets — 100% of vote
- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
House Dems: We’d forgo ‘public option’
Two leading House Democrats indicated Sunday that a “public option” insurance plan could be dropped from the final health care bill and still retain support from them and others in their caucus.
Democratic leaders, including President Obama, hailed Senate passage of a health care bill last week, but much has yet to be worked out with House Democrats before a final bill can be signed into law.
The House’s third- and fourth-ranking Democrats said Congress can dispense with the public option, a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private companies. Liberal lawmakers and activists favor the provision.
“We want a public option to do basically three things: create more choice for insurers, create more competition for insurance companies and to contain costs. So if we can come up with a process by which these three things can be done, then I’m all for it. Whether or not we label it a public option or not is of no consequence,” House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
When asked by CBS host John Dickerson whether he could give his support to a bill that has no public option, Mr. Clyburn said “Yes, sir, I can.”
Senate Democrats passed their version of the measure on a party-line vote of 60-39 on Christmas Eve, but many differences must be resolved with the House if a final bill is to make its way to Mr. Obama’s desk.
The Senate plan does not bar federal funding for insurance plans that cover abortions and does not include language for a public option. The House-passed measure does both.
Negotiations for final Senate passage continued during the final days before Christmas and led to the inclusion of hundreds of millions of dollars in “sweeteners” to gain the support of key Democrats, such as Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
Senate Democrats have cautioned their House counterparts that any substantial changes to their bill could break the fragile coalition in their chamber.
“If we are going to have a final law, it will look a lot more like the Senate version than the House version,” Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, said on “Fox News Sunday.”
On the same show, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, acknowledged the political equation.
“We’re not going to rubber-stamp the Senate bill. On the other hand, we recognize the realities in the Senate,” Mr. Van Hollen said.
The public option has become one of the sharpest dividing points for House and Senate Democrats. Liberal activist groups, including MoveOn.org, have urged Democrats to oppose any health care reform measure without a public option.
Conservative opinion leaders, meanwhile, including talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, have chastised Senate Republicans for not stopping the bill’s approval last week. The Senate minority leader rebutted that criticism Sunday.
“Every single Republican opposed the measure. All of the procedural devices that are available to slow down a measure were employed. It didn’t pass until Christmas Eve at 7 a.m. … I’m not sure what’s to criticize about that from a conservative point of view,” Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said on ABC’s “This Week.”
About the Author
Tom LoBianco has covered energy and environmental policy, including the climate change bill making its way through Congress. From 2007 to 2008, he covered Maryland politics from the Times’s Annapolis bureau. Tom hold’s a master’s degree in political science from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park. He spent two and a ...
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- Russia besieges Crimea as U.S. seeks diplomacy; Putin remains undeterred by Obama's sanctions
- Investigators puzzle: How does a 777 jetliner just disappear into thin air?
- As Crimea falls, Obama takes Key Largo golf vacation, Biden hits Virgin Islands
- CURL: Today's GOP really is Reagan's 'Big Tent' party
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- Adam Lanza's dad: He would've killed me 'in a heartbeat'
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: 'We are going to crush them'
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again