Lieberman says 'No' to Reid on health care reform

It's back to the drawing board for Harry Reid. Senator Joe Lieberman told the Majority Leader yesterday that he would not vote for the senate bill in its current form.

Robert Pear and David Herzenhorn of the New York Times have the story:

But on Sunday, Mr. Lieberman told the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, to scrap the idea of expanding Medicare and abandon any new government insurance plan or lose his vote.On a separate issue, Mr. Reid tried over the weekend to concoct a compromise on abortion that would induce Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, to vote for the bill. Mr. Nelson opposes abortion. Any provision that satisfies him risks alienating supporters of abortion rights.

In interviews on the CBS News program "Face the Nation," Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Nelson said the bill did not have the 60 votes it would need in the Senate.

Senate Democratic leaders, including Mr. Reid and Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, said they had been mindful of Mr. Lieberman's concerns in the last 10 days and were surprised when he assailed major provisions of the bill on television Sunday. He reiterated his objections in a private meeting with Mr. Reid.

A Senate Democratic aide, perplexed by Mr. Lieberman's stance, said, "It was a total flip-flop, and leaves us in a predicament as to what to do."

Democrats are desperately trying to round up 60 votes and conclude Senate debate on the health care bill before Christmas.

Things are starting to unravel for Reid. It appears he will not be able to get a senate bill passed without anti-abortion language and dropping any kind of a public option.

If Reid caves to Nelson and Lieberman, either one of those issues is likely to doom the bill in the House. The margin for error is so small that any compromise that could be achieved in the senate could mean that a few liberals in the House will refuse to vote for final passage. It won't take many considering the vote was 220-215.

Reid's plan to get a bill passed before Christmas vacation now appears dead. What's more, wavering Democrats will have to face an earful on opposition to reform from their constituents over the holidays that could mean even more resistance from Blue Dogs. 

Will Obama crack the whip? He has been AWOL as far as leadership on this bill so far. But if he wants to save it, he may have to get tough with members of his own party - something he has not done on anything to date.

Bottom line: Health care reform isn't dead. It's resting.


It's back to the drawing board for Harry Reid. Senator Joe Lieberman told the Majority Leader yesterday that he would not vote for the senate bill in its current form.

Robert Pear and David Herzenhorn of the New York Times have the story:

But on Sunday, Mr. Lieberman told the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, to scrap the idea of expanding Medicare and abandon any new government insurance plan or lose his vote.

On a separate issue, Mr. Reid tried over the weekend to concoct a compromise on abortion that would induce Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, to vote for the bill. Mr. Nelson opposes abortion. Any provision that satisfies him risks alienating supporters of abortion rights.

In interviews on the CBS News program "Face the Nation," Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Nelson said the bill did not have the 60 votes it would need in the Senate.

Senate Democratic leaders, including Mr. Reid and Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, said they had been mindful of Mr. Lieberman's concerns in the last 10 days and were surprised when he assailed major provisions of the bill on television Sunday. He reiterated his objections in a private meeting with Mr. Reid.

A Senate Democratic aide, perplexed by Mr. Lieberman's stance, said, "It was a total flip-flop, and leaves us in a predicament as to what to do."

Democrats are desperately trying to round up 60 votes and conclude Senate debate on the health care bill before Christmas.

Things are starting to unravel for Reid. It appears he will not be able to get a senate bill passed without anti-abortion language and dropping any kind of a public option.

If Reid caves to Nelson and Lieberman, either one of those issues is likely to doom the bill in the House. The margin for error is so small that any compromise that could be achieved in the senate could mean that a few liberals in the House will refuse to vote for final passage. It won't take many considering the vote was 220-215.

Reid's plan to get a bill passed before Christmas vacation now appears dead. What's more, wavering Democrats will have to face an earful on opposition to reform from their constituents over the holidays that could mean even more resistance from Blue Dogs. 

Will Obama crack the whip? He has been AWOL as far as leadership on this bill so far. But if he wants to save it, he may have to get tough with members of his own party - something he has not done on anything to date.

Bottom line: Health care reform isn't dead. It's resting.


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