Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) attends the 30th Anniversary Refugees International dinner at the Embassy of Italy in Washington on May 7, 2009. The organization is honoring Ted Turner for his contributions to humanitarian issues. (UPI Photo/Alexis C. Glenn) | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn., threw cold water onto Democrats' healthcare reform effort, saying he'll help filibuster unless the public option is yanked.
"We're trying to do too much at once," Lieberman said during a news conference Tuesday.
He also signaled to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that he'd support several preliminary procedural votes, Politico reported Wednesday.
"To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt," Lieberman said. "I don't think we need it now."
Lieberman's announcement was stunning but not surprising, Capitol Hill insiders said. Reid knew about Lieberman's objections, and the Senate Democratic Caucus is well aware of his independent streak.
Some Senate liberals told the Washington publication they were surprised by the announcement, saying they thought Lieberman wouldn't back the leadership on even the preliminary procedural vote on the public option.
"It just shows we have a long way to go on this," said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a fellow independent who caucuses with the Democrats and backs a public option. "I think the support for this thing is only going to continue growing. ... And in the end, people are going to jump back on board, and we might even get a few Republicans."