WASHINGTON -- The breakthrough Democrats thought they reached on health care hit roadblock in the U.S. Senate over the weekend.
Their fragile majority is divided over key issues that may derail their deadline to get a bill passed by Christmas. One leading senator says he cannot vote for the bill as it stands now.
Lieberman Objects to Healthcare Bill
Last week, senior Democrats cheered their compromise to ditch a public option for a national plan as a possible major step forward.
"This is a consensus that ensures the American people win in several ways," Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced last Tuesday.
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However, one week later they were taking a step backward as support has quickly faded.
"I certainly would have a hard time voting for it because it has some of the same infirmities that the public option did," Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., told CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday. "It will add taxpayer costs. It will add to the deficit. It's unnecessary."
Lieberman, one of two Senate Independents who votes with the Democrats, says he will join Republicans in opposing the health care bill if it allows uninsured people starting at the age of 55 to buy in to Medicare. The idea was proposed by five liberal Democrats and five moderates to overcome a deadlock over a public health insurance option.
But Lieberman is not the only one with reservations.
"I have to be assured that this is going to bring down the deficit and it's going to bring down healthcare costs for most Missouri families," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said.
And if it doesn't?
"Well, then we are going to have to go back to the drawing board," she said.
However, Lieberman says he is not suggesting Congress throw the baby out with the bath water.
"There's a good basic bill in here," Lieberman said. "And parts of it can be supported by 60 senators, including some Republicans. But we've got to stop adding to the bill. We've got to start subtracting some controversial things."
The bill needs 60 votes in order to pass, meaning every Democrat and the Senate's two Independents would have to have to vote for it. The problem is if certain provisions aren't in the bill, it could lose even more support.
"I think they're in serious trouble on this, and the core problem is the American people do not want us to pass it," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.
It's a sentiment supported by a recent CNN opinion research poll that says 61 percent of respondents oppose the Senate healthcare bill, while 36 percent support it.
The poll also says 79 percent think it would increase the deficit, and 85 percent believe it would increase taxes.
More Roadblocks Ahead
Democrats have another problem. A new report from economic analysts at the Department Of Health and Human Services reveals healthcare costs will go up more if the Democratic plan is passed, than if Congress does nothing at all.
So with 11 days before the Christmas deadline, the Democrats still face serious roadblocks in passing a healthcare bill.