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A quote to sum up our elected representatives….

Senator Olympia Snowe

Olympia Snowe

“I’m embarrassed by all of us. I’ve never seen a worse Congress in my whole political life.’’

Sen. Olympia Snowe

(thanks to Debbie Does Nothing.)

Snowe, who served as Maine’s congresswoman from 1979 to 1995 and has been a senator ever since, is being targeted by the Tea Party for voting in favor of the debt ceiling deal despite the fact that it did not include a balanced budget amendment.

Quote of the Day – From a Republican…

Moxie Festival Parade - Olympia Snowe

Olympia Snowe

“Frankly we haven’t done our jobs well here in Washington and that disturbs me. There’s all this partisanship and polization, and ultimately it yields two outcomes: either scorched-earth victory for one side or political stagnation.”

– Senator Olympia Snowe (R – ME)

Does that mean you are upset with your own, uncooperative Party?

The Senate Just Blocked The Defense Bill Including “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal…

This is a small triumph for the Republicans who, led this time by John McCain, filibustered the Defense Bill coming up for debate, and prevented the 60 votes (all Dems and Independents plus 1 Republican) needed by Harry Reid from happening.

Senate Majority Leader Reid needed those 60 votes to overcome Republicans led by McCain, but because he had attached debate on the DREAM Act and a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell as amendments  he was stomped. Centrist Republican senators like Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine were considered crucial to this effort — but they were unwilling to cross the aisle during today’s vote.

So this means that, for now, the basic Defense Bill, which funds the military (who needs it to just keep operating) is not on the floor. I’m watching Senator Barbara Boxer on C-Span2 right now who is complaining about the inability to debate either the DADT amendment or the Dream Act Amendment. One point she make is that the only other countries in the world that don’t allow open gays in the military are Iran, Turkey, Cuba, North Korea, Egypt and a few others… Our friends, England, Germany, Austria, Canada, France and many more, allow open gay military service. Get the idea.

The ED Show summed it up pretty well last February:

The DREAM act, which allows children who are not citizens but were brought into their country by parents, can get a leading run to citizenship… and, also, to populate our military with thousands of people currently not allowed in… has been trying to get on the agenda for the last 10 years. This is something that really should be brought back up on the agenda again and again until it is passed.

Meanwhile, we are seeing this Congress’ major problem… the inability to get things done when Senators… and that is Republican Senators… Filibuster EVERYTHING, rather than letting majority rule.

From Talking Points Memo: Reid Assures Snowe That Public Option, Medicare Buy-In Are Dead

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It wasn’t much in doubt, but Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) confirmed to reporters tonight that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid assured her all of the contentious aspects of the public option compromise–particularly the Medicare buy-in provision–have been dropped.

The two met this afternoon so that Reid could gauge the likelihood that she’ll ultimately vote with the Democrats, at least to push the bill past a filibuster.

He assured you that the Medicare buy-in and the public option are out, I asked?

“Correct,” she said.
Snowe insists, as she did earlier today, that there may not be enough time between now and the end of this week for her to understand the bill well enough to support it, as it enters the Senate holds a series of supermajority votes needed to finish the bill by Christmas.
With three unknowns–Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Roland Burris (D-IL), and Russel Feingold (D-WI)–on the left, and a wavering Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) on the right, Reid still has a lot of ground to cover.
  blog it
So… does this mean Reid is counting on Snowe? Will this become (ho ho ho) “bi-partisan” again?

We will know soon enough.

John Aravosis at AmericaBlog put out this post in the past hour.

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BREAKING: Major momentum suddenly for the public option, in just the few hours – while Snowe tries to kill the bill

Something is going on in Washington, behind the scenes. And it’s absolutely fascinating.

TPM, WaPo’s Plum Line, ABC and the NYT all suddenly have stories showing a sudden last-minute rise in optimism that the Senate could end up passing a health care reform bill with a real public option. All the while, Olympia Snowe, true to form, is now trying to kill the bill.

In the last few hours, we’ve learned:

Democratic Senators are telling the NYT that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is leaning towards including the public option in the legislation he sends to the Senate floor. And we really like this from the NYT story:

Mr. Reid and other Senate Democratic leaders were headed to the White House late Thursday afternoon for a hastily called meeting, where Mr. Reid was expected to ask President Obama to help secure the needed votes.

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Aravosis also says:

ABC reported that Reid is heading towards including the public option, but just as importantly, they report that Olympia Snowe seems to be pulling out all the stops in order to kill the legislation. Now she thinks that finishing the bill by Christmas is too soon. That, my friends, is talk aimed at killing the bill. The longer you drag it out, the longer it gives Republicans and their TV network time to try to gin up protests. Olympia Snowe just showed her true colors today, and they’re yellow.

So, why did we put all that effort into recruiting Snowe and cutting the best possible parts out of the Senate Finance Bill? Your guess is as good as mine.

Quote of the Day

“I’ve had very constructive and positive conversations with Leader McConnell and others. I’ve never been threatened. I obviously know that they would have preferred that I voted otherwise. But I have no reason to believe the rumors that have been prevailing with respect to that. I obviously have to focus on what’s right.”

– Senator Olympia Snowe

…but let’s see how long she stays on board.

Looks like Olympia Snowe is IN.

Snowed InOne Republican has crossed over on the Senate Finance Committee… and, of course, it is Maine Senator Olympia Snowe. The vote was 14-9 (and since there are only 10 Republicans on the Finance Committee, it means that she is out there on her own.)

So what will happen next? If reconciliation should add a Public Option, not currently present in this committee’s bill but in the four others… three from the House and one from the Senate… will she bolt?

Or will this bring at least one other Republican in on the final bill?

“Is this bill all that I would want? Far from it. Is it all that it can be? No. But when history calls, history calls. And I happen to think that the consequences of inaction dictate the urgency of Congress to take every opportunity to demonstrate its capacity to solve the monumental issues of our time.”

– she spoke with the Press on leaving the Senate Chamber. But she made clear that her presence is not fixed in stone…

“My vote today is my vote today. It doesn’t forecast what my vote will be tomorrow.”

– only a slightly veiled threat of pulling out if a Public Option shows up.

Fun, fun, fun… now we see what happens when Harry Reid brings Max Baucus and Chris Dodd together to create something to take to the House based on the Finance and Health Committees two bills.

Today the Senate Finance Committee Votes.

Now we’ll get to see if Olympia Snowe crosses over (odds are she will? She won’t? At this point who knows?), we’ll see if the final piece is favored by the Insurance lobbyists (odds are they’ll love it) and we’ll then get on with the finalizing of a bill combining both Senate committee bills (the other one has a Public Option which this one will be notoriously lacking.)

The Insurance Companies have been threatening big rate increases as this develops (they’re trying to get all the things in their favor through and all the things which cut their immense profits ruled out), and Baucus almost looked like he might stand up to them… but that will require snowballs in Hell to be delivered this afternoon.

In three minutes I’ll go to C-Span on line and watch this happen live…what an exciting day…NOT.

Harkin says that the Bill that goes to the President WILL HAVE A PUBLIC OPTION…

OK… I’m listening to C-SPAN and they play a preview of an interview they are doing with Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. In it he says: “Make no mistake about it, the bill that we send to the President WILL have a Public Option.”

Now I trust the Senator from Iowa (at least I trust this one… the other one, Chuck Grassley, I wouldn’t trust in the least), so what he says implies that he has more inside knowledge of who will vote for what. He is not a part of the Finance Committee, which has kept the Public Option well outside its boundaries (albeit with the Olympia Snowe’s suggestion of a “trigger” mechanism which may or may not ever get pulled) and which seems to have the President’s eye right now.

So what does Harkin know that Baucus doesn’t. We’ll find out, maybe this week.

The C-Span interview is today at 6:00 PM.

Is Olympia Snowe thinking about her future?

This piece in Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire caught my attention:
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Snowe’s Constituents Back Obama Plan

A new Democracy Corps poll in Maine finds that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) “enjoys broad support in her home state, but she faces significant political problems if she opposes President Obama’s health insurance reform.”

Specifically, a Snowe vote against a reform bill “results in Mainers evenly divided on whether she should be re-elected, while support for Obama’s plan produces 53% who want to re-elect Snowe compared to 38% who want someone new as U.S. Senator.”

In addition, Mainers “overwhelmingly support a government sponsored non-profit health insurance option, 63% to 27%.
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Senate Finance Committee – with Baucus leading the way – votes down the Public Option.

This is dismal. Both Jay Rockfeller (my Democratic Senator from here in WV) and Chuck Schumer, D-NY, proposed Public Option amendments to the Finance Committee’s bill… and 3 Democrats voted against Schumer, 5 voted against Rockefeller. The leading Democrat to step on the Public Option was Chairman Max Baucus. The one Republican who people seem to think might go along with a bill, Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, also voted against both amendments.

Senator Schumer:

My amendment to add a public option to the Senate Finance Committee bill came up just two votes short of being adopted by the full committee this afternoon.

This is unfortunate news but not a surprise. Remember, the Senate Finance Committee is more conservative than the Senate as a whole. And 4 out of 5 Congressional committees with jurisdiction over health care reform have passed a public option.

This is the opening day of our fight, and I will continue to work to improve the health care reform bill as we take the legislation to the Senate floor.

Some of the other Democratic Senators are now looking at bringing the Public Option to the Senate Floor and polling is showing increasing support by the voting public. Baucus is sitting on the $3.4 Million that the Insurance companies have invested in his campaigns and working as hard as he can to keep them in the catbird seat.

Snowe is getting pushed hard by her constituency as well:

So far the 4 proposals from House Committees and the one other Senate Committee bill HAVE a Public Option… Eventually this has all got to be brought together as one bill… and whether it can get 60 Senate votes to avoid a Republican filibuster, or the mere fifty votes necessary for a “reconciliation,” will remain to be seen.

I’m willing to campaign against ALL Democrats who work against what the majority of Americans want and need. Millions of others will be playing on the same team. Baucus should wise up.