Ellison: It is 'time to defend' the public option

One of the more liberal members of the House Democratic Caucus took to Twitter on Monday to push back at the Obama administration's efforts to back away from a public health insurance option.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) tweeted:
Time to defend Public Option in health care reform. HHS Sec. Sebelius, HHS, said PO was "not the essential element" of reform. Yes it is!

The Minnesota Democrat joined a chorus of liberal Democrats who criticized remarks made by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusRomney: Trump victory 'very possible' Fighting for assisted living facilities The chaotic fight for ObamaCare MORE and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that suggested that a public option is not the "essential element" of healthcare reform.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said that "leaving private insurance companies the job of controlling the costs of healthcare is like making a pyromaniac the fire chief." Weiner also said the president could lose as many as 100 votes on the health bill if the public option is not included.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement backing the public option but did not specifically address the administration officials' comments.

Both Gibbs and Sebelius made their comments on Sunday talk shows this week.

President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaObamas welcome Olympians to White House Overnight Finance: Lawmakers float criminal charges for Wells Fargo chief | Scrutiny on Trump's Cuba dealings | Ryan warns of recession if no tax reform Obama pushes to end solitary confinement; states led the way. MORE spoke along similar lines at his healthcare town hall meeting in Colorado on Saturday.

"The public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of healthcare reform," he said. "This is just one sliver of it. One aspect of it."

Cross-posted to the Twitter Room