The House of Representatives recently passed their own bill aimed at overhauling the health care system in this country, including a robust public option. The ball now moves over to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid has spent the past few months crafting a bill he hopes will be able to navigate both the conflicting interests and the procedural hurdles of the Senate. It won't be easy, and it's not going to be pretty.

As it stands right now, the House version would never see the light of day in the Senate. The Senate bill will include either or both a "trigger" or an "opt-out," but not if Senator Lieberman (I-CT) has anything to do with it. There is a group of centrist senators—mostly moderate Democrats—who are stalling the progress of health care reform in the Senate. But among these centrists, Joe is the only member of the Democratic Caucus to explicitly state he would filibuster any legislation that included the public option. While senators Kent Conrad (D-ND), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) seem intent on slowing the health care bill's progress in the Senate, none of them have gone as far as Joe in threatening to filibuster any public option.

Joe Lieberman is one of two independents in the Senate, having lost the Democratic Primary to Ned Lamont in 2006 only to win the general election unaffiliated with either party. Despite the fact that he campaigned for John McCain in 2008, the Democratic Caucus allowed Joe to hold onto his key chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee in return for "voting with us on everything but the war." Recently, however, Joe pledged to filibuster any health care bill that included a public option, a decidedly domestic initiative having nothing to do with Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran, for that matter.

This move appears to be a bold attempt to bolster the position of our Senator Olympia Snowe: both oppose the public option, but both would probably settle for a public option trigger, which would make the public option only come into existence if the health care industry failed to meet certain benchmarks (notably, lowered premium costs and fewer uninsured). Another idea is the public option 'opt-out,' which, coupled with making the public option a state run entity rather than a federal one, would allow states to opt out of the public option (should they meet certain benchmarks that only a few states currently meet).

Joe's filibuster threat, though it may come to fruition, appears to be an attempt to move the goalposts back a bit. With the House passing a robust public option and the Senate set to pass a bill with either a trigger or opt-out public option, it looks certain that the conference bill that would go back to the House and Senate would include a public option, and probably one that is stronger than what will pass the Senate.

By threatening to filibuster any bill with a public option, Joe has boxed in Harry Reid; without Joe's vote, the Democratic Caucus only has 59 votes. By Joe's apparent logic, Reid will be forced to all but abandon the public option in order to secure a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Needless to say, this would make the public option's inclusion in the conference bill far more suspect.

Recent polls show that almost 60 percent of Connecticut voters support a public option; religious groups, historically strong Lieberman supporters, are vocally questioning Joe's judgment.

As if to make matters look worse for Joe, the Congressional Budget Office has already found that by including a public option the total cost of health care reform will be lower in the long run than without one.

So what exactly is Joe trying to get done here? My guess is he's trying to, and will ultimately fail to, resurrect some form of the infamous Gang of Fourteen. Joe recently said that he would "call it as he saw it" in the 2010 midterm elections; i.e. he's not committed to campaigning for Democrats.

Perhaps Joe is trying to create a so-called moderate faction within the Senate, made up of key Moderate Democrats, himself and Olympia Snowe; a faction strong enough that securing its support is necessary to passing any substantial bill.

Well, Joe, good luck. Olympia Snowe's recent approval ratings show she's continued to be very popular; the critical change recently, however, is that she's overwhelmingly popular with Maine Democrats and Independents, and is marginally disproved of by Maine Republicans. While I'm not suggesting that Olympia will become the next Arlen Specter, these numbers do indicate that she could be in for a primary fight from her right in 2012.

Olympia Snowe has four years to position herself to fend off any potential primary. If she runs to her right to shore up her conservative credentials among Maine Republicans, she will undoubtedly bolt from any association with the Independent Joe Lieberman. Joe's new faction would lose its bipartisan credentials and slip into powerless obscurity. While these centrist Senators may believe that stalling President Obama's agenda will make them appear more moderate, it doesn't quite add any sort of legacy or accomplishment that voters look to in reelection campaigns.

If health care passes, no one opposed to it will support a Senator who helped stall the bill; they'll support someone who was against the bill. And if health care fails, then Democrats will probably lose their majorities quickly, and these centrist back-peddlers will also lose their power. So Joe should remember that he is also up for reelection in 2012, and Connecticut voters don't seem too keen on the guy.

Chris Rowe is a member of the Class of 2010.