Democrats Focus on G.O.P. Senators from Maine

The New York Times
November 22, 2009

WASHINGTON — Anxious about how little maneuvering room the weekend victory by Senate Democrats on health care provided, Obama administration officials and their Congressional allies are stepping up overtures to select Senate Republicans in hopes of winning their ultimate support.

The two moderate Republican senators from Maine, Susan M. Collins and Olympia J. Snowe, both say Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, reached out to them after he unveiled the Senate measure, encouraging them to bring forward their ideas and concerns.

Ms. Collins also received a personal visit from a high-level Obama emissary, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a former senator who worked closely with her on various issues as part of a bipartisan coalition.

After the party-line vote of 60-39 on Saturday night to move to a full health care debate, including votes on significant amendments, both sides are acutely aware of the wavering in their ranks, and trying to figure out how to play the numbers.

Republican leaders conceded that the Democratic victory, while not conclusive, improved the odds that a bill would pass. “Ordinarily, when you do start debate on a bill like this, it ends up passing,” Senator John Kyl of Arizona, the assistant majority leader, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “When these senators, for example, say, well, we’ll vote to start the bill but that doesn’t guarantee our vote at the end, the pressure at the end of the process is enormous.”

Unlike most Senate Republicans, who dug in deeply against the health bill as it survived the crucial preliminary vote, the two Maine senators have left themselves open to considering a vote for some version of the overhaul if they can win significant changes in the measure during a Senate debate that is expected to last for weeks.

Read the entire article at NYT.

Comments are closed.