As Politico first reported, the White House is pressuring a reluctant Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) to keep the prospects for health care reform legislation alive, a keyed in aide confirms.
Reid’s inclination is to wait until the CBO reports back on the public option compromise at the root of Lieberman’s filibuster threat. But the White House has made it clear that they don’t want to mess around.
The White House denies the charge. Spokesman Dan Pfeiffer tells TPMDC, “The report is inaccurate. 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.”
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was less responsive. “The President is anxious to see progress and will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans and independents and everyone in between.”Today, Interior Secretary, and former Colorado Senator, Ken Salazar paid a visit to Lieberman. The White House has dispatched Salazar to the Hill numerous times over the course of the health care fight to finesse things with swing vote members, and today his focus is Lieberman.
So let’s say Democratic leadership does cut a deal with Lieberman to scrap the public option compromise entirely. What happens next? Does Lieberman get off scot free with his former party?
A Senate Democratic aide says they’re not thinking about that yet. “The anger is too raw, and the task of figuring out what to do now is too pressing, to ponder that,” the aide said.
Additional reporting by Christina Bellantoni.