The second-ranking Republican in the United States Senate acknowledged on Thursday that he has had conversations with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) about the possibility of filibustering health care legislation.
Sen. Jon Kyl, (R-Ariz.) told the Huffington Post that he and Lieberman have been talking "on occasion" about the Connecticut Independent's threat to join Republicans in filibustering a bill that includes a public option for insurance coverage. Asked to provide specifics about what was discussed, Kyl laughingly balked.
"You really think I'm going to tell you what I tell him and what he tells me," he said. "I'm actually going to go talk to him in about 25 minutes," he added, before saying it likely would not be on health care related matters.
The discussions between Lieberman and the Republican whip in the Senate come at a time when Majority Leader Harry Reid is frantically looking for ways to persuade Lieberman to drop his filibuster threat. The 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee could, potentially, derail the entire health care reform process if he declines to be the 60th vote to pass cloture on a bill.
While Kyl has been reaching out to his Senate colleague, the Obama White House has not. Earlier in the week, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the president and Lieberman have not discussed the filibuster threat since it was issued.
Additionally on Thursday, Kyl suggested that Republicans in the Senate may, in fact, introduce an alternative health care bill of their own. Though, he stressed, no decision had been made and the party may simply be content to try to change the product through amendment.
"Obviously [House Republicans] don't have the opportunity for a lot of amendments," he said. "They have to do it all in one shot because Pelosi won't give them an opportunity to amend the bill."
"Both [introducing a stand alone bill or amending the Democratic variety] are possibilities," he concluded. "And no decision has been made yet."