Schumer urges Reid to include public option in final bill

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) late on Tuesday urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to include the controversial public option in the final version of healthcare legislation.

Schumer, who is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, yesterday voted for his panel's bill, which did not include a public option. The senator, however, has long pushed for a government-run health plan and said if Reid inserts it into a final bill, it would be difficult to remove.

"Well, first leader Reid has the option of putting [the public option] in the final bill. If he puts it in the final bill, in the combined bill, then you would need 60 votes to remove it," Schumer told MSNBC last night. "There are clearly not 60 votes against the public option. And so we’re urging him to do that, and he is seriously considering it."

Schumer focused his push on Reid, who as majority leader must merge the Senate Heath, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee bill and the Finance panel's bill into to one for consideration on the Senate floor. The HELP Committee's version does include a public plan.

As for the prospects of the provision's inclusion in the bill, Schumer said "we are getting heard" but said that Reid has not yet made a decision.

Schumer expressed confidence that the Senate could garner 60 votes for bill that includes a public option. Earlier in the evening, he estimated the Senate has 54 to 56 votes for the public plan, and claimed that several more centrist senators, such as Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), could be won over.

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