Blue Dog: Votes aren't there to go it alone on public option

Democrats will not be able to "go it alone" on healthcare legislation and force through a bill with a public option on a party-lines vote, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) said Wednesday.

"It's numerically not possible," Cooper, a centrist Blue Dog Democrat who has long focused on healthcare issues, said in an interview on MSNBC. "We don't have enough votes."

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Democratic leaders in Congress, along with the White House, had less faith in continuing to work with Republicans to craft a bipartisan health bill containing a public (or "government-run") option.

Cooper said that just as a matter of procedure, there is no way that Democrats would be able to accomplish such a thing.

"It's really not an ideological question; it's a question of how you pass a bill," he explained. "We don't have 60 Democratic votes in the Senate."

Cooper pointed to the prolonged absences of Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), arguing that Senate Democrats were two votes short of forcing through any legislation past a filibuster, and would need to draw in at least two Republicans to support the final outcome.

"It's just a matter of arithmetic," he explained. "It's not ideology."