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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Transparency In Czars

As J.P. Green noted earlier, Senators Rockefeller and Schumer are gearing up for a big push on the public option in the Senate Finance Committee markup of health care reform. But it ain’t happening today. Tim Noah, liveblogging the session at Slate, reports that the Committee started out late today, ended early for the weekend (as is traditional), and won’t reconvene until next Tuesday, in observance of Yom Kippur.
There was, however, time for some additional dumb Republican amendments to be offered and discussed, none dumber that Sen. Jon Ensign’s amendment, entitled, no kidding, the Transparency In Czars Amendment. Here’s Noah:

[I]t could also be called the Who Does Nancy-Ann DeParle Think She Is? amendment. DeParle is the White House health reform director. Under the amendment, she couldn’t keep her job unless the Senate confirmed her. There ensues an unedifying argument between Democrats and Republicans about whether DeParle really is a czar. (Don’t they mean czarina?) The amendment fails on a party line vote. Once again, swing-voting Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, votes for an idiotic partisan Republican amendment.

Ensign, you may recall, is in a bit of hot water for some of his recent extracurricular activities, and is trying to head off a 2012 primary challenge by using the spotlight on the Senate Finance Committee to identify himself with hard-right conservative activism. Hard to say what Snowe is up to; she may be sucking up to her Republican colleagues as a prelude to parting company with them on the ultimate vote, or she may just be acting like a partisan Republican generally.

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