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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Nelson votes against one public option proposal, but indicates support for another




Sen. Bill Nelson just joined fellow members of the Finance Committee in voting down a public option health care proposal advanced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who insisted it was not a government takeover. It failed 8-15.

But minutes later, Nelson said he would support a second, less-robust public option plan advanced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY. It would make the government-run plan stick to the same pricing and rules (providers would voluntarily opt-in) as private insurers must play by, a safer route for Nelson and other reluctant Democrats.

"It seems to me that this is very important that we have this competition. It has all safeguards in it ..." Nelson said. Here is audio of Nelson's pre-vote speech.

UPDATE: 3:44 p.m. Nelson just voted yes. But the amendment failed 10-13. The vote allows Nelson to say he supported a public option, even though he has previously said one would not pass the full Senate. After criticism for not being engaged in the health care debate, Nelson has played the last week like a pro, offering up populist amendments and earning lots of national media attention.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:20pm]


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