Feb. 14, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Lieberman Sets Off a Scramble

Douglas Graham/Roll Call
Democrats are hoping to keep their health care reform bill alive after Sen. Joe Lieberman threatened to filibuster it over an expansion of Medicare.

White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement: “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.”

But the senior Senate Democratic aide said the White House made its preferences clear, given pursuing the vote of moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) or trying to use restrictive budget reconciliation rules would likely require extending the debate into next year. Reconciliation is a complicated process that could allow Democrats to pass some pieces of health care reform with 51 votes.

“The reason our options are so narrow is because it’s accepted as a premise that a deal has to be done by Christmas, and that’s a White House imposed-deadline,” the aide said. “Both of those [other] approaches will put you well into the New Year, and that increases Lieberman’s leverage.”

David M. Drucker contributed to this report.

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