Tags: enzi | gop | health | care | deal

Lieberman Backs Republicans in Healthcare Dispute

Thursday, 30 Jul 2009 01:38 PM

Sen. Joe Lieberman is praising a GOP colleague's comment that House and Senate leaders leave a bipartisan deal on healthcare alone.

Lieberman backed Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who called for assurances from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that they not water down the reform proposals crafted by the Senate Finance Committee when the bill reaches conference, The Hill reported.

"What Mike Enzi is doing is a sensible and classic legislative stand, which is, 'I'll agree to this, but not if you take me along and suddenly spring something larger,'" Lieberman said during an interview on MSNBC.

"I'd say it's good that Mike is making that position clear," added Lieberman, who's said he opposes the public (or "government-run") option at the center of Finance committee negotiations. (The committee has reportedly done away with the plan in favor of healthcare cooperatives.)

"I think ultimately he and every senator knows that if they're worried about stuff being put in a conference committee with the House, it takes 60 votes to take up a conference committee," Lieberman coyly suggested. "So every one of us can block it if there are some surprises in it that a lot of us don't like."

Enzi said Thursday the bill is not ready for prime time and he doesn't know of any way it can be completed before the break. Enzi is one of six lawmakers from the Senate Finance Committee — three Democrats and three Republicans — who have been negotiating on legislation, according to The Associated Press.

The chairman of the Finance Committee, Democrat Max Baucus of Montana, and Republican counterpart Charles Grassley of Iowa, had both indicated Wednesday the group of six senators was making progress.

House and Senate committees had hoped to finish legislation before lawmakers' monthlong break.

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