Public Option Fails in Finance Committee

Ball's in Reid's court
By M. Morris,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2009 3:02 PM CDT
Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus talks with ranking Republican Charles Grassley during today's debate on health care legislation. Jay Rockefeller is at left.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – The Senate Finance Committee voted down both proposed versions of the public option this afternoon, setting up a showdown between conservative Democrats—who sided with Republicans in opposing the creation of a government plan to compete with private insurers—and their liberal colleagues. Jay Rockefeller's amendment failed, 15-8, shortly before Chuck Schumer's reputedly more palatable proposal managed to sway two Democrats but went down to a 13-10 defeat.

Committee chairman Max Baucus voted against both amendments, having explained that he doesn't see either version attracting 60 votes in the full Senate and thus considers himself obligated not to support them. At least one other Senate proposal does include a public option, placing the onus on majority leader Harry Reid to decide whether to address the public option during the reconciliation process, the New York Times reports.