Five Senate Democrats sounded the death knell for Jay Rockefeller's public-option amendment in the Finance Committee today. Rockefeller's amendment was voted down 15-8. Joining all the GOP members in voting against the amendment were committee chairman Max Baucus (Montana), Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas), Bill Nelson (Florida), Kent
Conrad (North Dakota), and Tom Carper (Delaware). Those names shouldn't come as a surprise. They're all moderate or conservative Democrats. Lincoln is facing a tough reelection in a conservative state next year, Montana and North Dakota are red states, and Florida has a large number of senior voters who are the demographic most opposed to health-care reform. According to the Huffington Post's Ryan Grim, Baucus said that Rockefeller's amendment would have caused the bill to fail on the Senate floor. "I fear if this provision is in the bill, it will hold back meaningful reform this year," Baucus said, according to CNN. The committee then voted on a similar, if slightly less liberal, amendment offered by Chuck Schumer of New York. It was shot down 13-10 with two Democrats, Nelson and Carper, switching their positions.
Prospects for a public option aren't entirely dead. There's still the possibility of a public-option trigger that Olympia Snowe, who voted against Rockerfeller today, has expressed support for. It has yet to be discussed by the Finance Committee.