Progressives hoping the Senate will be able to pass a public option had reason to hope on Tuesday morning. The source of that hope was the Hill's Alexander Bolton, who reported:
Sen. Joe Lieberman has reached a private understanding with Majority Leader Harry Reid that he will not block a final vote on healthcare reform, according to two sources briefed on the matter .... Reid’s staff is telling liberal interest groups that Lieberman (Conn.) has assured Reid he will vote with Democrats in the necessary procedural vote to end debate, perhaps with intentions to change the bill.
Problem is, for now, both sides are denying the story.
"If you believe this story is true, you will also believe that I am replacing A-Rod in Game Six of the Series," Lieberman spokesman Marshall Wittmann said in a statement. "The suggestion reported in The Hill that Senator Lieberman has made a 'private understanding' on his votes on health care reform is absolutely not true. Senator Lieberman's clear position is that he will vote for the motion to proceed to the health care bill because he supports health care reform that will control costs and insure people who don't have it now, but will oppose cloture on a final bill if it contains a public option."
In short, what that means is what Lieberman had already said -- he will be voting with the Democrats on one procedural motion, which will bring the bill to the floor. That alone will help Reid, as it's still no sure thing that he has the votes for that. But when it comes to defeating a filibuster, Lieberman is still saying he'll vote with the Republicans if the legislation contains a public option.
Reid's office, too, has come out trying to knock down Bolton's story. "There is no such understanding. We hope to have [Lieberman's] vote in the end but we are not there yet," Reid spokesman Jim Manley told TPMDC.