Does Tester Support the ‘Public Option?’

By Beacon Staff

Chris Bowers at openleft.com wrote last week that he does – at least Sen. Charles Schumer’s version:

I have just received word that Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) would vote in favor of Senator Schumer’s “level playing field” public option.

This pushes the Senate whip count to 51, even without Joe Biden casting a tie-breaking vote.

But Tester was far less committal when Dan Testa asked him about the public option Friday:

While Baucus has seen his national profile raised dramatically, for better or worse, through his health care work, Tester has not been outspoken on the issue, repeatedly saying he would wait to see a final bill and analyze its cost before committing to any votes. He maintained that stance Friday, even when questioned about frustration by some on the left about his unwillingness to step up in support of the so-called “public option,” which would allow the government to sell insurance in competition with private industry.

“What they’ve got to realize is that if you commit to a public option, they put anything in front of you, you’ve got to vote for it. I want to see it; I’ll make sure it works,” Tester said of a bill containing the public option. “If it gets to the floor and it works for Montana I’ll support it. If it doesn’t, I won’t.”

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