The White House is denying a news report that it is pressuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to negotiate a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman on health care reform.
“The report is inaccurate,” White House communication adviser Dan Pfieiffer told Greg Sargent at the Plum Line. “The White House is not pushing Senator Reid in any direction. We are working hand in hand with the Senate Leadership to work through the various issues and pass health reform as soon as possible.”
Citing “an official close to the negotiations,” Politico reported Monday:
The White House is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), which would mean eliminating the proposed Medicare expansion in the health reform bill.
But Reid is described as so frustrated with Lieberman that he is not ready to sacrifice a key element of the health care bill…
“There is a weariness and a lot of frustration that one person is holding up the will of 59 others,” the official said. “There is still too much anger and confusion at one particular senator’s reversal.”
The proposed health care compromise would see Medicare expanded so that people aged 55 and over can buy in to the government-run plan, which currently covers senior citizens aged 65 or older. Supporters of health care reform have criticized Lieberman’s stance, pointing out that the independent Connecticut senator who caucuses with the Democrats had been in favor of such an idea as recently as three months ago.
Politico reports that the Democrats and the Obama administration now have “limited options” in terms of getting a health care bill passed: They can negotiate a deal with Lieberman, which would strip out most of the “progressive” reforms in the bill; they could try to get Republican Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) on board, though Politico describes this as doubtful; or they could pass a reform bill through reconciliation with the already-passed House bill, a move that would allow the Democrats to move forward with only 51 votes, but which is seen as politically risky.
Update at bottom: 81 percent of Democrats want Lieberman punished for healthcare filibuster: poll
Sen. Joe Lieberman isn’t backing down from his demand that health care reform not include a public option. But as he said on Sunday, there are now more items that must be removed before he will give his vote.
“I want to tell you, we could pass a health care reform bill this week with more than 60 votes and it would be bipartisan if we just took a few things out of the bill as it is today,” Lieberman told CBS’ Bob Schieffer during a Sunday broadcast.
“Give me the list of things that have to be taken out to pass,” Schieffer prompted.
“From my point of view, no public option,” the senator replied. “No Medicare buy-in. Class act, which will add to our debt in the future, ah, it doesn’t take much more than that. You’d have a great bill left.”
According to a poll conducted by Progressive Campaign Change Committee and Democracy for America released Monday, Democrats want Lieberman punished if he joins a Republican filibuster of healthcare reform.
Eighty-one percent of Democrats said they would like to see the senator’s chairmanship — which he was allowed to keep despite campaigning for Sen. John McCain in 2008 — taken away should he sustain a filibuster. Only 10 percent of Democrats said there should be no punishment. Even fewer (nine percent) said they had yet to make up their minds, underscoring just how divisive Lieberman is within the party.
An additional 43 percent of independents agreed that Lieberman should lose his post, with 30 percent saying no. Only ten percent of Republicans, meanwhile, thought Lieberman should be punished under such a scenario — while 66 percent said he should not.
All told, 47 percent of the public said Senate leaders should remove Lieberman from his chairmanship if he joins the Republican filibuster; 32 percent said they should allow him to keep the post; 21 percent said they weren’t sure.
This video is from CBS’ Face the Nation, broadcast Dec. 13, 2009.