ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf reports:
Sen. Joe Lieberman is technically Independent, but today he dominated press conferences by the leaders of both parties in the Senate. Lieberman's announced today that he'd probably vote for cloture on whether to consider a health reform bill, but oppose cloture on the bill later on the Senate floor if it still had a public option. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid heaped praise on Lieberman. "I don't have anyone that I have worked harder with, have more respect for in the Senate than Joe Lieberman. As you know, he's my friend. There are a lot of senators, Democrat and Republicans, who don't like part of what's in this bill that we went over to CBO. We're going to see what the final product is. We're not there yet. Senator Lieberman will let us get on the bill, and he'll be involved in the amendment process," Reid said, pointing to Lieberman's bipartisan work in the past. "I have the greatest confidence in Joe Lieberman's ability as a legislator. And he will work with us when this gets on the floor, and I'm sure he'll have some interesting things to do in the way of an amendment. But Joe Lieberman is the least of Harry Reid's problems," said Harry Reid. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, had a far different assessment. He did not mention Lieberman by name, but said any vote for cloture – even one to consider health reform bill as Lieberman indicates he could support – is a vote for everything in the bill. McConnell invoked the infamous and fateful statement by Sen. John Kerry about an appropriations bill in 2004 that he "voted for it before he voted against it." "I think it's appropriate to make the point at the outset that a vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to this bill will be treated as a vote on the merits of the bill. We all recall Senator Kerry's strained way in the 2004 campaign of explaining why he voted for it before he voted against, and I think it is perfectly clear that most Americans will treat the vote to get on the bill as a vote on the substance of the bill," said McConnell. "So our view is that cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill is a bill — is a vote to endorse a half a trillion dollars in Medicare cuts, $400 billion in new taxes, and higher insurance — health insurance premiums for everyone else." McConnell brought it up again later. "I think we all remember the Kerry campaign, and we all remember the difficulty of explaining to our constituents why we were for something before we were against it," he said.