Two key senators, whose support of a health reform bill could prove critical to its passage, said they would not vote for the legislative package unless major changes are made.
“There are not 60 votes for healthcare reform in the Senate now,” Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the independent from Connecticut who caucuses with the Democrats, said on the CBS news show "Face the Nation."
Without Republican support, Democrats need all 60 members of their caucus to fall in line in order to pass the bill—a task that so far has proven elusive, if not impossible. No GOP member is expected to back the bill in its current form.
Lieberman, however, said the bill could gain votes if provisions that would expand the Medicare program, create a national public option, and begin a new publicly administered long-term care insurance program were left out of the legislation.
The senator said the base bill is solid enough to greatly improve the health care infrastructure without those three components.
“We don't need to keep adding onto the back of this horse, because we're going to break the horse's back and get nothing done,” Lieberman said.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), also appearing on the Sunday morning show, echoed Lieberman's assessment. Nelson said he is concerned that a Medicare buy-in provision could be a “forerunner of single-payer.” He also added that stronger anti-abortion language is needed in order to gain his vote.
Last week, Nelson drafted legislative language that would have restricted plans from offering abortion services. The measure failed to pass.
“I can't support the bill with the abortion language that's there,” Nelson said.
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