October 13, 2009

Olympia Snowe to Vote Yes on Senate Finance Committee Health Care Bill

Update (2:52 p.m.): Final vote — Senate Finance Committee passes health reform bill by a vote of 14-9, with Sen. Olympia Snowe the lone Republican voting in favor.

Update: Public option supporter Sen. Jay Rockefeller will also vote “yes.”

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on health reform legislation proposed by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) this afternoon or evening. The bill is expected to make it out of committee, but one of the lingering questions had been whether it would pass with or without the support of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). It’s no longer a question — Snowe announced she will break with her party and support the Finance Committee bill.

“Is this bill all that I want? Far from it,” Snowe said. “Is it all that it can be? Far from it. But when history calls, history calls.”

She noted that consequences of inaction “dictate the urgency of Congress to take every opportunity to demonstrate its capacity to solve the monumental issues of our time.” (Listen to Snowe’s full statement at NPR.)

There’s no guarantee Snowe will vote for future versions of the legislation, and it remains to be seen how much Democrats will have to bend to keep the Maine Republican on board.

For more from today’s committee vote, Katherine Q. Seelye is live blogging at The New York Times blog Prescriptions.

More healthcare reading:

- “As the manipulation, posturing and bickering over health reform led primarily by conservative male congressional leaders, pundits, anti-choice organization leaders and ‘anti-reform town hall’ groupies drones on, the Democratic women of the Senate stepped up,” writes Jodi Jacobson at RH Reality Check, describing the actions of eight female senators last week.

“The Senators’ obvious frustrations — and even anger — at the slow progress on health reform legislation, the fact that untold numbers of Americans continue to become ill or die due to lack of timely health care, and the political games being with played reproductive health services was refreshing, frank, and long overdue,” continues Jacobson.

- Clark Hoyt, The New York Times public editor, on Sunday provided a behind-the-scenes look at the newspaper’s approach to covering health care reform, and he explained new features created to help readers understand the policy debate. In addition to the Prescriptions blog mentioned above, OBOS readers may also be interested in a new online forum, Health Care Conversations, which invites readers to comment on 20 healthcare-related topics, including popular conversation starters such as the public option and single-payer healthcare. Less busy is the forum on women and healthcare.


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