September 8th, 2009
05:16 PM ET
11 years ago

Hoyer: A bill can pass the House without a public option

WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Tuesday a health care bill could pass the House without a public health insurance option. That assessment from the number two Democrat breaks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who just last week insisted that "a bill without a strong public option will not pass the House."

When asked about the Speaker's position, Hoyer didn't answer directly, but signaled there would be support for a bill as long as it included major reforms. "I think a bill can pass the House that the majority of the House believes enhances, moves forward substantially the providing of access for affordable, quality healthcare…I believe a bill that accomplishes very substantially the objectives the President has put forward and we put forward can pass the House."

The Majority Leader repeated that while he still supports a public option, he could vote for a bill without one. "I think it is vital - it's vital, important. Do I think it's a condition of passing the bill? My position has been I'm for the public option. I want to see us adopt a public option, but I think there is a lot in the bill that is very good in addition to the public option. Interpreted, that means if the public option weren't in there, I still could support a bill because I think there's a lot in there that's good."

Hoyer repeated an assessment he made last month about the level of support for the public option. "I think it's a good option. On the other hand, I have said I hope we move a bill forward that can garner a majority of support."

Hoyer noted that Democrats lost a "great warrior" when Senator Kennedy died and said he "was as strong a voice as there was" for a public option. But he also pointed out that one of the reasons Kennedy was so well regarded on both sides of the aisle was that he was "a consummate legislator in trying to reach a consensus that could garner enough votes to change policy. That's what we're trying to do, and I hope that's what we do do."

Hoyer told reporters he didn't have a timetable set in terms of whether the House would act before the Senate, but House members are interested to see what the Senate is working on.

Filed under: Health care • Nancy Pelosi • Steny Hoyer
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Randolph Carter

    The final bill will be an expensive giveaway to the insurance industry and will contain no real reform. The lobbyists will see to that. Have a nice day!

    September 8, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. DA

    If it does, he and everyone who didn't get that option passed better get ready to get out of office!!!

    September 8, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. Nothing 'Stand Up' about Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)

    Maybe a bill can pass the House without a public option, Mr. Hoyer...

    but should it?

    You Democratic leaders will be seen as weak and incompetent if you fail again to get us real health care reform and get the people who created the problems under control once and for all.

    You will be seen as weak and incompetent by your own base.

    September 8, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. The Lady

    NO WAY, we need a public option...

    September 8, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  5. Kelby In Houston, Texas

    Haha! Yeah, A bill could pass the house without a public option.
    And then everybody who rode into office on Obama's coat tails would get fired and replaced by somebody who will provide the people with a public option. Ya dig?
    When the people elected Obama, we not only wanted an end to the Iraq war, We not only wanted economic recovery, We not only rejected republicans universally, WE WANTED HEALTHCARE REFORM!!!

    September 8, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  6. Steve (the real one)

    Can these liberals get their story right? Pelosi says yes, gotta have the public option or we can't pass health care. Her #2 says we can pass it without a public option. Common folk are confused because that is the signal coming from the liberal controlled Congress! I hope they keep flaying about! 2010! Where are you?

    September 8, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  7. Jason

    As a Maryland resident that you represent, Mr. Hoyer, I look forward to voting you OUT in your next primary.

    No Public Option......No Go.

    See ya later "Steny"!

    September 8, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. Allan

    Maybe we NEED a public option, whether a bill can pass with it or without it.

    September 8, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. Four and The Door

    A public health insurance option is a loser on so many levels. does address the access problem and that's a big deal, but:
    1. It only addresses the insurance issue. Insurance companies are only half the problem. Otherwise, why not just pay your own medical bills? Because they are too expensive! That is due to hospital charges, physician fees...their malpractice insurance, etc.
    2. A public option will eventually run insurance companies out of business and then only the Federal Government will remain. This is a recipe for no competition, meaning higher costs yet and lower quality of care. Don't underestimate the benefits of competition. It's a good thing to have when you are paying for something.
    3. And last but not least, our economy is on life support, our government has a debt crisis and we can't afford another $1 trillion program. We do not have the money for this and we are in debt over our head to start with!

    September 8, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  10. Ron L

    Mr. Hoyer's EGO is runiing on overdrive. I am AMAZED that the Majority Leader would undercut the previous statement of the SPEAKER when they are in the same party. I assure you it would NEVER happen with the Republicans. It makes me wonder..just how little respect does the Majority leader have for the Speaker??? As a Man I know many men are all for women being in charge, UNTIL THEY ACTUALLY ARE!! This is VERY VERY disappointing..There needs to be a NEW Majority leader.

    September 8, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  11. Jimmy the Greek

    The BEST you bottom-feeders crying for a "public option" can hope for is a "trigger" – even that will cause Americans grave concerns.

    Can't WAIT for 2010 mid-term elections!!

    Bah-Byyyyeeee Democrats

    September 8, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  12. New Day

    I want to know this from my fellow progressive friends: Do you want a public option because you feel it's the only way to bring down costs or are you screaming for it because you want to punish insurance companies?

    If it's the former, would you support a bill that brought down costs, held the insurance companies in check, insured everyone, and eliminated the health discrimination?

    If it's the latter, I understand the need to punish but, if there is another option that's cheaper and accomplishes the same, shouldn't the goal be to improve the healthcare of all americans rather than to punish?

    I'm not against the public option but, to be pig-headed about it just to be able to say "we won" seems about as crazy as death panels.

    September 8, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  13. Nothing 'Stand Up' about Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)

    Maybe a bill can pass the House without a public option, Mr. Hoyer…

    but should it?

    Don't just hand over more profits to the very people who have been creating this problem for years.

    The system they created is about to cause serious hardship for even more millions of Americans.

    The problem they created is about to break our system.

    Mr. Hoyer, with statements like these, you Democratic leaders are starting to look mighty weak and incompetent to your own base!

    September 8, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  14. jeff

    Please tell me how there will be major reform is there is no public option. Please tell me how any insurance company will change their policies if there is no other competition. All insurance companies care about are their profits, they will not change anything if it affects their profits unless forced by a public option that will PUT OUR HEALTH FIRST.

    September 8, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  15. bozo the obama

    the only people pushing the public option are the goon unions and welfare lovers....surprise, this will not be free. 4 and the door.

    September 8, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  16. Portland, Maine

    to bad there needs to be a public option.....

    get in line Hoyer and support the people that put you in office.

    September 8, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  17. Pel

    Sorry Rep Hoyer. We are not seeking nothing less than a public option for health insurance. Less not be spooked by the right wingers. So times you have to stand and fight. Why should the repugs always dictate what the demos must give into?

    September 8, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  18. Caesar the Great

    Common sense starting to sense in? Nah, people are just trying to distance themselves from the Speaker. Not that I can blame them though.

    September 8, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  19. Edwin

    I am sorry to see such negativity.

    I am for the public option, but I think SOMETHING is so so so so much better than NOTHING.

    Compromise generally means getting a bill passed that everyone hates, but for different reasons.

    That is how democracy SHOULD work. Not the majority bullying the minority.

    September 8, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  20. jp,michigan

    NO PUBLIC OPTION! Look how the government is running medicare, social security and the post office. Money dosen't grow on trees in D.C., Mr. President. Eventually all that is borrowed has to be paid back.

    September 8, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  21. Charlie Brown

    Yes. Let's just deliver millions of new customers to the insurance companies and leave them at their mercy.


    September 8, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  22. m jeff

    Without the public option insurance companies will continue to exploit people and control premiums. Private insurance = no option and horrible plans.

    September 8, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  23. james jackson

    why are the reporters on your show so afraid to say what is really the cause of republicans hatred of the president. they are racist,they are trying to nulify his election by spilling lies and voting know to everything are president want to acomplisment. every time the repubicans open there mounth they lose minority votes.

    September 8, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  24. ComradeObummer

    Who cares what PELOSI thinks? She is an idiot.

    People make fun of PALIN, but look at this botox idiot.

    September 8, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  25. Vets4Obama

    On a somewhat related topic. If you are in favor of Health Care Reform, do NOT vote for these democrats, replace them with TRUE democrats. They are blue dog democrats by personal preference rather then according to the constituents of the area's they represent. Put and end to their career unless they whole heartedly vote yes on the health care reform: All but one are in them out unless they vote for health care reform:

    CA-18 Dennis Cardoza (D)
    CA-47 Loretta Sanchez (D)
    CA-20 Jim Costa (D)
    CA-36 Jane Harman (D)
    CA-01 Mike Thompson (D)
    CA-43 Joe Baca (D)
    CA-29 Adam Schiff (D)
    GA-13 David Scott (D)

    September 8, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
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