Specter Would Support Using Reconciliation To Pass Health Care As A ‘Last, Last, Last Resort’

Yesterday, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said that he would consider joining a GOP filibuster of the Senate’s health care reform bill if it contains a public option. “If the bill remains what it is now, I will not be able to support a cloture motion before final passage,” Lieberman said.

Later, during a conference call with progressive bloggers, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) was asked if, given Lieberman’s position, he would support using the reconciliation process to pass health care reform with a public option, which would require a mere simple majority for passage. Specter said that he might eventually but added that he thinks the Democratic caucus will get 60 votes:

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SPECTER: Well as I have said I would consider that as a last, last, last, resort. I think that the institutional safeguard of 60 votes is a very important one. … [M]oving away from that institutional 60 votes is something I think would be a last, last, last resort. You might have to fight fire with fire when there are so many filibusters. The number is now 81. And a lot of nominations are being blocked and action is being blocked. …

On the issue of fighting fire with fire, maybe so, but I think that we are not going to come to this. I think we can muster the 60 votes and not have to face the reconciliation.

Q: Senator if I have this correctly, as a last resort, you would not oppose using reconciliation…

SPECTER: As a last, last, last, resort I would consider it, yeah.

Specter later said that Lieberman is “not going to want to see reconciliation used,” adding, “I think it’s gonna work out.” Listen here:

In fact, the top two Democrats in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), have not taken reconciliation off the table in order to pass health care reform. “Sure, it’s always an option,” Reid said on Monday. “The failsafe on this is reconciliation,” Durbin said, but added, “I hope we don’t reach it because you can only do a limited amount of things on reconciliation.”