Harkin: I've Got Votes to Pass Public Option

Democrats have votes to break filibuster, pass bill, he says
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2009 2:04 PM CDT
Newly-named Senate HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, accompanied by Max Baucus, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Sept. 9, 2009.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – Sen. Tom Harkin sees no good reason Democrats can’t pass a health care bill that includes a public option. “I have polled senators, and the vast majority of Democrats—maybe approaching 50—support a public option,” the newly minted Health, Education, Labor and Pensions chairman said today. “So why shouldn’t we have a public option? We have the votes.”

With Teddy Kennedy's replacement on board, Harkin thinks he's got the 60 votes to bypass a filibuster and get the bill to floor vote. “Once we cross that hurdle, we only need 51 votes for the public option,” he said. “And I believe there are, comfortably, 51 votes for a public option.” Harkin thinks Harry Reid should include the controversial plan when he merges the HELP committee bill with the Finance Committee’s version.