The Senate has the 50 votes necessary to pass a public health insurance option using the budget reconciliation process, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersObama makes 0K for speech at A&E event: report Van Jones: Obama should do ‘poverty tour’ Sanders calls for renewed focus on fighting climate change MORE (I-Vt.) said Thursday.
Sanders, a self-described "democratic socialist" who supports the government-run plan, urged President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaReport: Trump tweeted 470 times in first 99 days Biden schedule sets off 2020 speculation Obama makes 0K for speech at A&E event: report MORE to push for the public option even though the possibility of passing it appeared to die this week.
It's not clear if Sanders's remarks will encourage leaders to take up the public option, but they will surely give hope to his liberal supporters who have put pressure on Congress to pass a public plan.
The White House and Democratic leaders on Tuesday threw cold water on the possibility of pushing the proposal through, saying that there is not enough support in Congress to do so.
“We have seen, obviously, that though there are some that are supportive of this, there isn’t enough political support in a majority to get this through,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said this week.
Obama did not include the public plan in his healthcare reform proposal released Monday. The Senate's final healthcare bill did not include a public option but the House's did. Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDraft House bill ignites new Yucca Mountain fight Week ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road MORE (D-Nev.) removed the public plan from his bill in December after he could not attract enough centrist support needed to pass the bill under regular order.
But talk of the public option's revival sprouted up last week after some senators circulated a letter calling on Reid to use the reconciliation tactic to pass it, which would allow senators to bypass a cloture vote requiring the support of 60 senators. Only a simple majority is needed to pass legislation under reconciliation.
Reid has expressed openness to using the reconciliation tactic to pass the public option under the right circumstances.
But the letter only has 24 signers, including Sanders, which is well short of the votes needed for the tactic to succeed.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), which cosponsored the letter, still believes there are more votes to be had on the public option. Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezTaiwan deserves to participate in United Nations The way forward on the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump Corruption trial could roil NJ Senate race MORE (D-N.J.) highlighted that fact when he predicted on Tuesday that "a lot more" senators will sign onto the letter.