Bill Nelson is in favor of passing a public option through reconciliation:
Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) became the 41st senator to say that he would back the public insurance option as part of a health care bill moved through reconciliation.
Nelson, asked by HuffPost if he would vote for a public option on the Senate floor, was unequivocal. "Yes," he said firmly. "I've already voted for it in the committee, in the Finance Committee."
Two big implications for the Senate whip count:
1. On Reconciliation
That makes 54 Senators publicly open to using reconciliation to finish health reform. It is actually 55 if you trust Joe Lieberman, which no one should.
Only Blanche Lincoln is opposed. Kay Hagan, Mark Warner and Jim Webb have not taken a stance.
2. On the public option
That makes 41 Senators in favor of passing a public option through reconciliation. Additionally, Tom Harkin, Claire McCaskill and Herb Kohl all support the public option, and support reconciliation, but just haven't stated they would support a public option in reconciliation. So really, the number of public option supporters is 44.
Back in 2009, the other supporters of some sort of non-trigger public option were Robert Byrd, Tom Carper, Kay Hagan, Paul Kirk, Jay Rockefeller, Mark Warner, and Jim Webb. Additionally, there were three other possibilities who we never nailed down one way or the other: Max Baucus, Mark Begich, and Mark Pryor.
We would need six of those ten to pull it off. Kirk is no longer in the Senate, and Rockefeller now claims to be opposed. However, I still think we can get Rockefeller to vote in favor if it comes up for a vote. Would such a strong support kill the public option if the House sent the Senate a reconciliation bill with one?
All in all, while a longshot, it does actually seem possible to reach 50 on the public option again. But the House has to send the Senate a bill with a public option in it for this to work.
Join the fight over at Whipcongress.com!