WASHINGTON (CN) – Senators voted 56 to 43 on Thursday to put off debate on health reform as they take up a broad spending bill, a break that also gives the Congressional Budge Office time to analyze a new Democratic plan that may eliminate the government-run public option from health legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would wait until the analysis by the CBO before divulging details of an agreement reached Tuesday night by Democrats over the public option.
The CBO analysis is expected to take three or four more days. This means that after senators complete the vote on the spending package, currently set for Sunday, they might be able to quickly turn their attention back to health care.
Despite Reid’s sealed lips, subsequent reporting by the Associated Press claims the agreement between liberal and moderate Democrats might forego a government-run public option in favor of expanding Medicare and by expanding private plans overseen by the agency that runs the system the lawmakers themselves use.
In his announcement Tuesday, Reid assured listeners that the bill would still include a strong public option, but made no mention of a government-run option.
“It is a consensus that includes a public option and will help ensure the American people win in two ways,” he said. “One, insurance companies will face more competition, and two, the American people will have more choices.”