Lieberman: Even Unpullable Trigger Is An ‘Irritant’ That I Will Filibuster

Roll Call Photos/Newscom

Since the details of a looming public option compromise have begun to leak out, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has reiterated his opposition to a triggered public option–which is reportedly part of a new health care agreement. I asked him today whether he still intends to filibuster, even if the Congressional Budget Office says it’s unlikely to be filled. He drew a line in the sand.

“I’ve told them that I can’t support a trigger–no, actually, to be more explicit: If they say that it’s unlikely to be [pulled] then it’s unnecessary,” Lieberman said. “It’s an irritant. And I keep saying to my colleagues: the underlying bill, that I would say 60 of us in the caucus support, that is, the parts that we support in the underlying bill, are so full of progress–let’s get that done, and stop trying to squeeze in things that some of us, respectfully, just won’t accept.”

The trigger being considered would be pulled, according to a Senate aide briefed on the compromise, if private health insurers, managed by the federal government, do not offer nation-wide non-profit plans starting in 2014. If pulled, it would create a national public option. The measure was added to the agreement at the last moment at the insistence of Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI). But it may still prove an obstacle to passage of the health care bill.

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