Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid addressed a development, first reported by TPMDC
, that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will filibuster a health care bill if it includes a public option.
"Joe Lieberman is the least of Harry Reid's problems," Reid told reporters at his weekly press conference.
During a Q&A session with reporters, Reid offered a fairly spirited defense of Lieberman, signaling perhaps that he doesn't believe Lieberman will ultimately be an obstacle--or at least that he doesn't want to tip his hat: "I don't have anyone that I've worked harder with, have more respect for, in the Senate than Joe Lieberman. As you know, he's my friend. There are a lot of senators--Democrat and Republicans--who don't like [parts of this bill]... Sen. Lieberman will let us get on the bill, and he'll be involved in the amendment process."
Reid went on, "Some of you will recall one reason that we were able to solve the problem with the nuclear option is that I called Joe Lieberman to my office, and said Joe I want you to join the enemy and get us out of this deal."
The response comes only an hour or so after Lieberman told reporters that though he's inclined not to stand in the way of a floor debate on health care, he'd exercise his right as a senator to filibuster it if he didn't approve of the final package--and he says the public option in the Senate bill is a bridge to far for him at the moment.
"We'll get it on the floor, we'll have an amendment process, and that's what we do," Reid said. "We haven't been doing a lot of it because we've had 81 objections so far this year by the Republicans."