Snowe Brings Cold Day To Senate Republicans
A key Senate panel passed the final health care bill, paving the way for legislation to appear before the entire Senate. The Senate Finance Committee bill gained the support of one Republican, Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Her vote helps move health care reform further along in the legislative process than ever before.
Democrats have three more members on the Senate Finance Committee than Republicans which means they had the numbers to pass the health care reform bill.
But Senate Democrats can now boast that the measure is bi-partisan because Republican Senator Olympia Snow said so herself.
“The mark before us produces some bipartisan landmark reforms, which is to end the unfair, flagrant insurance policies that have devastated Americans for decades,” Snowe said.
Senator Snowe is the only Republican to support this bill, even amid concerns. She said her vote is to move the process forward.
“Is this bill all I would want? Far from it. Is it all it can be? No. But when history calls, history calls. And I happen to think the consequences of inaction dictates the urgency of Congress to take every opportunity to demonstrate its capacity to solve the monumental issues of this time,” Snowe said.
Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) immediately responded to Senator Snow’s statement. “Thank you Senator for that very thoughtful statement. It will be well-remembered,” Baucus said.
All eyes were on Senator Snowe who has never closed the door to negotiations, nor has she promised support, though out the months-long discussion on health care reform.
Senator Snowe joined all Democrats to support the bill, even as some Democrats voiced disappointment with the Finance Committee measure.
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) supported it after indicating last week he might not because it does not include a public option.
“It’s regrettable to say so, but I think the bill still falls short of what people need and what people expect from us,” Rockefeller said.
Instead, the finance committee created a co-operative to appease conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans, which would be a newly created, member run health insurance plan.
The Congressional Budget Office says the bill is deficit neutral and is projected to cover 94%, or 29 million, Americans through mandates and subsidies given to buy insurance, up from 83% currently covered.
Just one day after the health insurance industry released a self-funded report that says health insurance premiums will rise if health care reform is passed, supporters of the public option say it is proof that the public option is needed more than ever.
“It’s a powerful argument for why we ought to have a public plan….There’s an old saying that if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem,” Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) said.
Meanwhile Republicans who opposed the measure rejected the argument that they were maintaining the status quo.
“We all agree we need health care reform,” said Senator John Ensign (R-Nev). “We just disagree on how to do it.”
The measure will now go to Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev) who has already begun merging the two version of health care reform the Senate has produced.