Schumer: Dems will vote together for public option

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday insisted he could still tweak his public option proposal to win the support of skeptical Senate Democrats.

His latest affirmation, however, arrives only hours after the Senate Finance Committee defeated two amendments that would have added the government plan to Chairman Max Baucus’ (D-Mont.) healthcare plan.

"If you followed this closely, we said all along we never expected to win in the Finance Committee. In fact, there were some who were saying we were going to get so few votes, we shouldn’t bring it up," the New York Democrat told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.

"We gained votes today, to get 10 votes in this, which is the most difficult terrain for the public option, because the Finance Committee is more conservative than the Senate Democrats as a whole, and the Senate Democrats as a whole are more conservative than the House and the conference," he added.

Both Schumer’s amendment and a separate, similar proposal offered by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) failed to win a majority of votes during the committee’s markup session earlier in the day. Three Democrats even sided with their GOP colleagues against Schumer’s effort, which would have created a public option that did not tie doctor reimbursement rates to Medicare.

Still, by Schumer’s calculations, "not a single Democrat has said ‘I’m absolutely against the public option’." Instead, he explained, most of the party’s skeptics want the proposed government plan altered in some respect before it comes to a floor vote.

"We didn’t expect it would be this close," he said. "And there’s momentum. It’s going to keep getting better, better on the floor than in the Senate and better than in the Senate Finance Committee, and better in the conference, where the House has 70 to 100 members who say they won’t vote for anything without a public option."

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