Joe Lieberman Vows to Say “No” to a Public Option

Healthcare reform’s worst news could be former vice presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), who is threatening to join a Republican filibuster should a public option in any form be included in the final legislation.  Senators possibly joining Lieberman in opposing a public option are Ben Nelson (D-NE), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA).  Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is exploring compromise measures with his 60-member caucus.

So opposed is Lieberman that he has vowed to filibuster the ultimate bill if it contains any form of public option.  This includes “the trigger” or “fallback” that is favored by Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME).  Under this plan, the trigger would let states opt out of a public plan.  Lieberman also opposes Senator Tom Carper’s (D-DE) “the hammer”, which would allow states to opt into a public plan.  Blue Dog Democrats like Landrieu have expressed some support for both “the trigger” and “the hammer”.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) remains optimistic.  “I think that what happens is there are two weeks, three weeks, whatever, of debate.  Senator Lieberman, everybody gets a chance to offer amendments.  I don’t want four Democratic senators dictating to the other 56 of us and to the country, when the public option has this much support, that it’s not going to be in it,” he said, noting that a majority of the American people support a public option.  According to Brown, the four dissenters will “look at this bill in the end and say, I don’t think they want to be on the wrong side of history.  I don’t think they want to go back and say, you know, on a procedural vote, ‘I killed the most important bill in my political career.’  I don’t think they want to be there on that.  So I think in the end, we get them.”

Pat of the dilemma, the Democrats find themselves in is that two Democrats – Roland Burris and Bernie Sanders – have vowed not to vote for the bill if there’s no public option.

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