BREAKING: No Snowe, For Now

by Jonathan Cohn | September 15, 2009

Multiple outlets are reporting that when Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus introduces his health reform bill tomorrow, it will not have any Republican endorsements. (Update: it's out, and here's my initial reaction.) That means no support from Mike Enzi or Charles Grassley, which isn't surprising. It also means no support from Olympia Snowe, which is a little bit surprising. Snowe is the Republican most serious about reform and working with Democrats. Over the last few weeks and particularly the last few days, she hinted that some sort of agreement is close.

To be sure, this isn't the final word. According to Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown, Snowe is waiting to see how the committe hearings go--and what the final bill looks like:

I am committed to this process. I want this effort to continue and I am going to work through all these issues and the committee process will advance that as well and we will continue to work together.

So she could still support a bill. And one interesting question, going forward, is the extent to which she might actually favor changes that more liberal members, like Jay Rockfeller, are seeking. He and other liberals are concerned (rightly!) that the Baucus framework doesn't do enough to make insurance affordable to all Americans. Snowe has raised similar concerns before.

Still, many of the changes Democrats seek are bound to alienate Snowe. (Among other things, improving the affordability provisions probably means raising more revenue, something Snowe doesn't seem to want.) That brings us to the second interesting question of the night, one my colleague Noam Scheiber raised the other day: Even if Snowe doesn't support the final package, would she vote to sustain sustain a filibuster of it?

I don't know the answer. But it's one of the many reasons Obama and his top allies are still thinking through the reconciliation options.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/the-treatment/breaking-no-snowe-now