Grassley: No bipartisan support for a public option

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a key player in healthcare negotiations, laid down the gauntlet on Tuesday, saying there won't be a bipartisan healthcare reform bill that includes a public option.

In a thinly veiled swipe at Sen. Edward Kennedy's (D-Mass.) Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Grassley said on MSNBC that if reform is going to get bipartisan support "it is going to have to come out of the Finance Committee," of which he is the ranking member.

Asked what the criteria would be for bipartisan support Grassley said: "We need to make sure there is no public option."

The senator said that there could be a "co-op" but said that a pure public option or government run health program would have to stay out of the legislation.

Grassley was also asked about President Obama's most emphatic criticism on Tuesday of the Iranian crackdown on dissenters since their election.

The Republican said it is about time Obama made such remarks.

"I think if those statements had been made a week ago they would have set the tone that Americans expect," Grassley said.

"The silence that come over the last week was unexpected," he added. "So people that were dying in the streets, it seems to me, ought to at least have the moral backing of the United State and they weren't getting it."

After Obama's remarks on Tuesday, which Grassley complimented, Iranian dissenters should now know they have that backing, he said.

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com

More in News

President Obama offers condolences, support to NYPD commissioner

Read more »