With a pronounced independent streak to match his political alignment, Bernie Sanders of Vermont may be another headache for Democrats trying to cobble together 60 votes for healthcare reform in the coming weeks.
At a time when most attention is being paid to the Senate’s other, more well-known Independent, Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman, it is Sanders who could end up playing spoiler for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). As Reid struggles to find 60 votes that will unite on procedural votes, his party’s centrists are pulling the healthcare bill politically rightward while Sanders is staking out a far-left position.
Asked if he will support Democrats on procedural votes once the healthcare bill hits the Senate floor, Sanders was repeatedly noncommital, twice telling The Hill that he intends to push for a bill that includes a government-run, public-option insurance component and refusing to guarantee his support on cloture votes.
“All I’ll say for now is that I want the strongest public option possible in the bill,” Sanders said. “Beyond that, we’re going to have to look at what develops.”
Pressed further, Sanders’s office also offered no guarantees.
Gotta' love The Hill calling support for the public option a "far-left" position. It's not "far-left" when the majority of the public supports it. Sen. Sanders was again noncommital on whether he would be willing to go so far as to filibuster the health care bill during this interview, but said he is going to fight to make sure that the bill is not just a giveaway to the insurance industries.