Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that he’d back a GOP filibuster of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care reform bill.
Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes a government-run insurance program — even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid’s has said the Senate bill will.
“We’re trying to do too much at once,” Lieberman said. “To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now.”
Lieberman added that he’d vote against a public option plan “even with an opt-out because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line.”
His comments confirmed that Reid is short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill out of the Senate, even after Reid included the opt-out provision. Several other moderate Democrats expressed skepticism at the proposal as well, but most of the wavering Democratic senators did not go as far as Lieberman Tuesday, saying they were waiting to see the details.
Kudos to Sen. Lieberman, I have a sneaking suspicion that the media’s new found, um, respect for independent-minded centrists like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins won’t be extended to Joe Lieberman… Regardless, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Health Care Reform Plan is in trouble. When you combine Sen. Lieberman’s announcement with Sen. Snowe’s comments saying she won’t vote for Reid’s opt-out public option either and you’re looking at 41 votes to kill it. Add in still uncommitted Blue Dog Democrats like Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and it’s not looking good the Majority Leader’s plan.
TPM has a short summary on this means procedurally… In short, there’s two cloture votes coming on Reid’s plan. One to open floor debate and consider amendments to it and a second to close debate and proceed to a vote on the bill itself. Sen. Lieberman’s comments indicate he’s willing to vote yes on the first but not on the second unless Sen. Reid agrees to drop the public option. And this where it’s gets interesting Sen. Reid’s reelection effort in trouble, if he kills the public option progressives abandon him and pretty much kill his reelection chances. If he sticks with the public option he’ll run into that 41 vote problem.
Update: It look’s like the Democrats are short of the votes needed for a robust Public Option in the House too:
The House Dem leadership has conducted its preliminary whip count and has tallied up less than 200 likely Yes votes in support of a health care reform bill with a robust public option, well short of the 218 needed for passage, according to an internal whip count document I’ve obtained.
The document — compiled by the office of House leader James Clyburn — was distributed privately at a meeting between Clyburn and House progressives today where the fate of the public option was the subject of some contentious debate, with liberals demanding that House leaders push harder to win over votes.
Clyburn spokesperson Kristie Greco would only say: “We currently do not have the votes for a robust public option.”
I’m not sure what to make of this, Ace thinks the Democrat Leadership knows the Public Option is dead and that this is just some sort of elaborate political theater to pacify their base. I’m not so sure it’s as simple as that, their leadership knows this may be their last, best chance to get a government run health care plan through Congress and they’re willing to pay any price… including losing the next election to get it done.
- Republicans question health care improvements – Associated Press
- House health care bill over $1 trillion for decade – Associated Press
- FACT CHECK: Health insurers’ profits 35th of 53 – Associated Press