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3 More Senators Come Out for Public Option; Whip Count Reaches 33

The public option continues to fight for survival, as the number of senators who've come out publicly for the government insurance plan reaches 33. The most recent additions to the list are Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). They've all signed the open letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid that was crafted by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and made public on Feb. 16. Since then, senators have been joining the push to use reconciliation to pass the public option, which is deeply unpopular among Republican members of the Senate. And the pressure is mounting. Just last week at the presidential health care summit, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came out in full force for the public option, which she has publicly supported and abandoned many times throughout the debate. She called out Obama for backtracking the public option, a measure he campaigned on, and he admitted for the first time publicly that he had abandoned it because he had over-committed himself to passing a bipartisan health care reform bill. It will be interesting to see if Reid acts in face of all the support, seeing that the public option is very popular with a majority of his party -- and the country. The problem is that the public option is not popular in his home state of Nevada, where he faces a tough re-election campaign. Indeed, most believe that although he is incredibly well-funded, he doesn't stand a particularly good chance of beating his GOP challengers. That being said, Sen. Bennet, who wrote the letter urging Reid to fight for the public option, also faces a tough mid-term election (and his first, as he was appointed to his Senate seat when Ken Salazar was tapped for Interior Secretary) -- but he's putting himself out on the line regardless.

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