Not so fast.
President Obama’s victory dance yesterday for the House-passed health-care bill came as Senate foes — mainly Republicans with one key Democrat moderate — pronounced the measure mortally wounded, if not outright DOA.
Speaking from the Rose Garden after the squeaker 220-215 Saturday-night vote, Obama urged senators to be like runners on a relay team and “take the baton and bring this effort to the finish line on behalf of the American people.”
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Instead, he met with immediate resistance.
If a government plan is part of the deal, “as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote,” Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut independent whose vote Democrats need to overcome a GOP filibusters, told “Fox News Sunday.”
Lieberman said he was concerned about new government spending the health-care legislation would entail, saying deficits have gotten gargantuan.
“I don’t want to do that to our children and grandchildren,” he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” declared, “The House bill is dead on arrival in the Senate.”
“It was bill written by liberals for liberals, and people like Joe Lieberman are not going to get anywhere near the House bill . . . It is a nonstarter in the Senate.”
He said he firmly believes “the public option will destroy private health care.”
The House-backed bill would expand coverage to nearly all Americans and bar insurance practices such as refusing to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions.
But in the Senate, moderate Dems have balked at Majority Leader Harry Reid‘s plan for a public option, an insurance plan run by the government rather than private companies.
Reid (D-Nev.) has yet to schedule floor debate and hinted last week that senators may not be able to finish health care this year.
Democrats have no margin for error: They control exactly 60 seats in the 100-member Senate.
The overhaul would lead to the biggest changes in the $2.5 trillion health-care system — which accounts for one-sixth of the US economy — since the 1965 creation of the Medicare government health-insurance program for the elderly.
The House vote was a vital victory for Obama, who staked much of his political capital on the health-care battle.
A loss in the House could have ended the fight, impaired the rest of his legislative agenda and left Democrats vulnerable to big losses in next year’s congressional elections.