WASHINGTON (CNN) - Citing a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, House Majority Whip James Clyburn said Monday that the Senate Majority Leader should use a budgetary maneuver to pass health care reform with a government-run insurance option if Democrats do not have the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster.
According to the survey released last week, 61 percent of Americans favor a public health insurance option that would compete with private plans. Support for the public option rose six point since an earlier poll in August.
"I can't imagine that 60 percent of the United States Senate will deny 61 percent of the American people the opportunity to get what they say they want," Clyburn said Monday in an interview on CNN's Newsroom. "So I would say to Senator [Harry] Reid that 60 ought not be the crucial number. Fifty ought to be the crucial number."
Clyburn said that if there are 52 or 53 Democratic votes for some form a public health insurance in the Senate, then Senate Majority Leader Reid should use a budgetary maneuver called "reconciliation" to bypass the usual 60 vote threshold needed to get to a vote on the Senate floor.
"And I do believe that the time has come to make 50 the number," the South Carolina Democrat said. "Reconciliation has been provided for in our budget resolution. It is time for us to stop the snail's pace. Stop running out the clock. And start getting done for the American people what they tell us they would like to see done."
Clyburn's comments came on the same day that Reid is set to have an afternoon press conference in which he is expected to announce that he has finalized the Senate version of the health care reform bill.
It remains unclear whether Reid has lined up the 60 votes needed to get to a vote through the normal procedures.