Searching For Sixty

Moderate Democrats in the Senate were underwhelmed with the plan of Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid to include a public insurance option in a major health reform bill, as it quickly became obvious that Democrats don't have 60 votes to stop a filibuster.

In fact, some of those who Democrats are counting on to vote with them may in fact may not move to force a final vote.

"I've told Senator Reid that if the bill stays as it is now, I will vote against cloture," said Sen. Joe Lieberman, referring to the parliamentay tool that is used to break a filibuster.

The Independent Democrat from Connecticut may once again be on the verge of causing Brain Warp Among Liberals, as he made clear on Tuesday that Reid should not count on his vote if a public option is part of the equation.

"Joe Lieberman is the least of Harry Reid's problems," said Sen. Reid when asked about Lieberman's health reform threat.

Also ruling out any help for the Democratic Leader were both Senators from Maine, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, as both expressed their disappointment with Reid's move on a public option.

Snowe told a scrum of reporters in the hall just off the Senate floor that she was "disappointed" with Reid's maneuver, while Collins said there was no way she could back a bill that also had a public option.

Other on-the-fence Senators were not as direct as Lieberman and the two Mainers, but several of them warned that they also might end up on opposite sides.

"My bigger concerns have to do with whether the bill is fiscally responsible or not," said Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN).

So the bottom line hasn't changed in the near term on health care reform.  Democrats in the Senate still don't have enough votes to stop a filibuster.

Meanwhile in the House, it seems like Democrats don't even have a majority there for the public option right now, as reports last night indicated that the Whip counts are not good for liberals.

Stay tuned.

About the Author