In a conference call with Connecticut reporters Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd said he hasn’t spoken to U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman about his position on health care, which has garnered the junior senator a fair amount of media attention.
“No, I haven’t talked to him about that,” Dodd said. “I’m just working on trying to get this health care bill ready for the floor consideration. And my hope is that people wait and see what they want to vote on before they start making up their minds on voting for or against something they haven’t even seen yet.”
Lieberman, the Democrat turned Independent, said last week that he wouldn’t support a health care bill that includes a government-run public option and would even join a Republican filibuster to stop final passage of such a bill.
The Hill reported Monday evening that unnamed sources are now saying that Lieberman has reached a private understanding with Majority Leader Harry Reid and will not block a final vote on healthcare reform.
Dodd said he had heard that too, but was unable to say if there was any truth to it.
When pressed by reporters about his relationship with Lieberman, Dodd finally said he was “disappointed” that the junior senator took a position different than his on the public option.
“Joe and I have a good working relationship, we have for many years, and that will continue despite differences that occur from time to time,” Dodd said.
Over at Democrats.com there’s a petition asking Democratic leadership in the Senate to punish Lieberman if he fails to support a bill with a public option.
Last December Democrats in Connecticut sent Lieberman a strongly worded letter expressing their displeasure with his support of John McCain, the Republican senator who ran for president in 2008. However, the effort to send the strongly worded letter had started as a movement to censure Lieberman. The resolution to censure him did not garner enough support from members of the state’s Democratic Party.
In Washington D.C. similar conversations took place in late 2008, but in the end Lieberman was able to continue caucusing with Democrats and maintained his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee.
“I wish I could say I was surprised by Joe’s decision, but considering on which side he found himself in the Presidential contest last year, it’s not a complete shock,” Nancy DiNardo, chairwoman of the Democratic Party in Connecticut, said last week.
A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in September found that 64 percent of voters support giving people the option to buy health insurance from a government plan
“For the life of me, I don’t know why Joe would choose to join the Party of No on this critical issue, blocking the real reform and real progress people so clearly spoke in favor of just a year ago,” DiNardo said.
Meanwhile, Dodd expects the Congressional Budget Office to estimate the cost of the Senate health care reform bill by the end of this week. As early as next week the Senate may begin consideration of the bill, he said.