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Talking Points Memo

Lieberman: Sure, I'd Filibuster A Health Care Reform Bill

Brian Beutler

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) (Photo: newscom)

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told reporters today that he would in fact
filibuster any health care bill he doesn't agree with--and right now,
he doesn't agree with the proposal making its way through the Senate.

"I told Senator Reid that I'm strongly inclined--i haven't totally
decided, but I'm strongly inclined--to vote to proceed to the health
care debate, even though I don't support the bill that he's bringing
together because it's important that we start the debate on health care
reform because I want to vote for health care reform this year. But I
also told him that if the bill remains what it is now, I will not be
able to support a cloture motion before final passage. Therefore I will
try to stop the passage of the bill."

There are two procedural issues at play here. Most people think of a
filibuster as a minority blocking passage of a bill that's already been
debated ad nauseum on the Senate floor. That's the most
standard filibuster. But on major legislation, it's become more common
for the minority--in this case the Republicans--to object to the
majority getting a chance to debate legislation in the first place. If
any one of them objects to the so-called motion to proceed, it will
take 60 votes just to start the amendment and debate process. That's a
less-discussed filibuster, but it's quite plausible that this health
care bill will have to contend with it.

Lieberman is saying that he's pretty much OK with letting senators
offer amendments--try to change the legislation, move it in any
direction they deem necessary. But when that process is all over, and
Harry Reid wants to hold an up or down vote on the final product,
Lieberman's saying he'll join that filibuster, if he's not happy with the finished product. Point blank.

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