As Health Vote Nears, Fellow Lawmakers Wonder Where Snowe Will Fall
By Shailagh Murray
Call it the Snowe forecast.
Everyone on Capitol Hill is wondering how Sen. Olympia J. Snowe will vote on the Senate Finance Committee's health-care reform bill once the big day arrives, likely within the next week.
The Maine Republican is the only member of her party considered to be a serious conversion prospect. But although Snowe supported Democrats on many key amendments during the committee's two-week debate on the legislation, she's being cryptic about her intentions -- to say the least.
"Did they get in my brain yet?" she wondered of all the speculators, during a lengthy conversation Tuesday afternoon with reporters. "They've got me voting yes, preserving my leverage. Voting no, preserving my leverage. It's all about what I'm comfortable doing at the end of the day."
As a founding member of the committee's bipartisan "Gang of Six," Snowe has haggled over every provision in the Finance bill. She still isn't sure whether people should be penalized if they don't buy health insurance; whether the coverage Congress would require people to buy would be affordable; and whether a sweeping Medicaid expansion would impose crippling new costs on states.
Will those concerns outweigh the many portions of the bill that Snowe supports? At this point, she can't say. And she warned her colleagues, don't read too much into her Finance vote. "It's trying to do the right thing at this moment in time," said Snowe. "Whatever my vote is in the committee will be my vote for that day. It doesn't mean it's going to be my vote always. I just think that's the nature of this legislative journey we're on."
Nor does Snowe view herself as all that key of a player. "The Democrats obviously have the votes on their side," she said. "They've got 60 votes. The question is whether or not they're willing to entertain changes that can build broader support and achieve a centrist based position on this issue."
October 6, 2009; 4:54 PM ET
Categories: Health Reform , Senate
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