Mike Stark caught up with Sen. Lieberman in Washington D.C. yesterday and asked him if he would consider joining a Republican-led filibuster to deny an up-or-down vote on the public option and health care reform:
But now you're standing against a public option. Will you join with the Republicans in filibustering if it comes to that?
"I'm not sure. But I haven't changed. People around me have changed. I haven't decided that yet."
Depending on the calcium levels in the spines of Senate Democrats on whatever particular day the decision is made, this could be a very costly position for Sen. Lieberman to take.
Rachel Maddow reported on MSNBC last night that there may be movement in the Senate to strip gavels from any Democratic committee chairs who would support a Republican filibuster and deny an up-or-down vote on health care:
We can report exclusively tonight, that two major power brokers on the left have told MSNBC that they are encouraging a Senate strategy now, in which the leadership would revoke chairmanships and other leadership positions from any Democrat who sides with a Republican filibuster to block a vote on health reform...
Regardless of how individual senators would vote ultimately on the bill, committee chairmen or subcommittee chairmen who allowed Republicans to force a 60-vote requirement for passing health care... under this type of strategy would be in danger of losing their chairmanships.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has also gone up with a petition demanding that Senate Democratic committee chairs who do not vote to allow an up-or-down vote on health care be removed from their positions. It has 6,700 14,900 signatures so far, and they are now aiming for 10,00020,000 before delivering to Harry Reid.
As Jon K. notes below, if there's one thing Sen. Lieberman values in his professional life, it is his precious chairman's gavel - to be used, of course, only in political attacks against Democratic administrations, and never to investigate silly inconsequential events like Iraq or Katrina.
If Sen. Lieberman supports a Republican filibuster, as he seems fully prepared to do, that gavel may now now imperiled.