What Olympia Snowe Got for Her Vote

by Ezra Klein
Washington Post
October 14, 2009

The list of senators charged with merging the Finance and HELP bills into the legislation that will actually come to a vote on the Senate floor is vanishingly small, and every participant is there for a reason. Harry Reid will preside. Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, will be one of the chief negotiators. Chris Dodd, who led the HELP Committee’s health-care efforts, will be the other. And that’s about it. Oh, except for one other person:

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid, said that Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, the lone Republican on the Finance Committee to vote in favor of the bill, would be invited to future sessions. And Mr. Manley said the Democratic leader was prepared to go to substantial lengths to keep Ms. Snowe’s support.

“He is prepared to do what he can to keep her on board while putting together a bill that can get the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster,” Mr. Manley said.

Democrats really want this bill to be bipartisan — to the point that they’re giving the Republican a space in the negotiations equivalent to the chairmen of the two relevant committees. Indeed, I wouldn’t be shocked if this perk had been negotiated in advance of Snowe’s vote yesterday.

Continues at the Washington Post.

[CAJ Note: We suspect Senator Snowe knows the saying from 1920s Texas about loyalty, “You’ve got to dance with them that brung ya.” So while she enjoys the power the Democrats will permit her in exchange for her vote, it appears to voters that she now owes her vote to the Democrats. In her comments after this week’s votes, she waffled and wanted to appear to be walking the middle line, but let’s not kid ourselves. Senator Snowe has done this with her votes before and conservatives across the nation are now calling for her to just be honest and “do an Arlen Specter.”

[Maine’s Senator Collins has suggested she, too, will vote with the Democrats on health care. In the words of blogger Robert Stacy McCain, “The rumors of two Republican Senators from Maine have been greatly exaggerated.”]

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