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Pelosi: Public Option Is Off the Table

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) predicted Sunday that she would find the votes to pass a health care overhaul and said Democrats had already made major concessions to Republicans, including ditching the public insurance option.

“A year later, we’re closer to what Republicans were suggesting at that time, an exchange and not a public option,” she said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Pelosi said, “There is no public option on the table now.”

Pelosi said all last year “was a year of trying to strive for bipartisanship,” but she said it failed because “we have a different value system here.”

She said the summit at Blair House showed that Democrats and the White House wanted to hold the insurance companies accountable but Republicans did not.

And she predicted she would find the votes to pass a final version of the legislation.

“I think that we’ll have a very positive result,” she said.

Pelosi’s comment on the public option quashes an insurgent effort by liberals in both chambers to revive it. The White House had already effectively declared it dead last week.

Pelosi was unwilling to concede that she would lose any votes because of the compromise abortion language in the Senate.

“I don’t like the Senate language because I am pro-choice,” Pelosi said. But she said that it meets the test of not providing any federal funding for abortion.

“It moves us toward passing a bill,” she said.

Under the Senate bill, women receiving federal subsidies would have to use their own money to send in separate checks to cover and pay for abortions. But some Democratic abortion opponents led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) have declared that compromise unacceptable. Stupak’s language would force women to buy supplemental abortion insurance policies.

Abortion-rights supporters have vowed to oppose any bill with Stupak’s language. They contend that few people make contingencies for an unplanned pregnancy and doubt insurance companies would even offer supplemental policies.

Pelosi also said she still wants to improve affordability for the middle class in the final bill, and suggested the unpopularity of the health care reform effort in polls has more to do with how it has been characterized by Republicans than the details of the bill, which individually tend to poll well.

Pelosi said it will be easier to effectively sell the bill once a final product is agreed upon. “When we have a bill, we’ll see what the Senate can do, and then the House will act,” she said.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on CNN that he didn’t think there was any chance of a bipartisan agreement and ripped Democrats for planning to move ahead with the filibuster-busting budget reconciliation procedure to bypass Republicans.

McConnell characterized the debate as “an argument between the Democrats and the American people. The American people oppose this bill. They oppose the use of reconciliation to pass this bill.”

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