Senate Finance 'Hyper-Taskers' Head Toward the Finish Line
By Sarah Lovenheim
On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee will finally vote on the health-care bill it has been meticulously crafting. Below, a look at some pressures faced by the committee's swing voters in advance of that vote.
Bill Nemitz of the Kennebec Journal Morning Sentinel chronicles a day in the life of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) as she faces pleas for her vote from both sides of the aisle. The phones in her office from early morning to late evening "never stop ringing."
"I never saw it unfolding this way," Snowe told the paper.
Her indecision has led some Republicans to dub her a RINO (Republican in Name Only). Her husband, former Maine Gov. John R. McKernan, has coined a nicer nickname for her frantic life as she takes calls and studies the legislation: a "hyper-tasker." Snowe said of her husband: "John describes me as a 'hyper-tasker'.... Instead of multi-tasker, I'm a hyper-tasker."
Yet no matter how she votes, at least two of her Republican Finance Committee colleagues have pledged they'll maintain an affection for her. "I think the world of Olympia. We're very close," said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Asked if she'll have a place at the GOP table even if Snowe votes with Democrats, Hatch said, "You bet your life she will." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) agreed. Without Snowe, "the future of the Republican Party would be very dim," he said.
Bloomberg's Krista Jensen and Laura Litvan write that although the future of health-care reform "depends on warring Democrats, number-crunching analysts and, possibly, one senator from Maine," two other senators should be eyed ahead of the vote: Democrats Ron Wyden of Oregon and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. They still "won't yet say how they will vote."
Both support the idea of government-run health care program and "said they are focused on making health care more affordable."
Wyden: "The primary focus should be on bringing premiums down.... You don't have, when you go home, people saying, what I really want is an exemption or a hardship waiver."
The Hill's Jeffrey Young concludes that if one of the following three senators -- Wyden, Rockefeller or Snowe -- votes against the bill, health-care reform "would suffer a tough blow on Tuesday and might not recover."
Meanwhile, Clark Hoyt of The New York Times reminds people of one other wavering senator whose vote could prove significant. Snowe has "looked like the pivotal player. But maybe it will be Blanche Lincoln, the fiscally conservative Democrat from Arkansas," he said.
Washington Post editors
October 12, 2009; 8:05 AM ET
Categories: Health Reform , Swing Senators
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