As everyone waits on the Senate Finance Committee’s final action today on health care reform, Ezra Klein has an interesting take on the final vote and what it will mean in terms of which senator has leverage in the rest of the process:
The big question mark is Olympia Snowe: She’s been given virtually everything she asked for. But there’s talk that she might withhold her vote to increase her leverage on the floor. As the thinking goes, if she votes for the bill coming out of committee, Democrats will assume she’s committed to the legislation and cease trying to woo her. On the other hand, if she votes against the bill coming out of committee, Democrats might decide she’s simply not serious about signing onto the legislation, and they’ll forge ahead with a 60-vote strategy.
But liberals should hope for an “aye” from Snowe. If she abandons the bill, that empowers Ben Nelson as the eventual dealmaker, much as he was during stimulus.
Whether you agree with Ezra or not on this point, it does appear that the votes on cloture and on final passage of health reform legislature have become hopelessly entangled, making the party identity of the cricial “decider” irrelevant.
UPDATE: So the vote was 14-9, and Olympia Snowe was on board for a fleeting moment of token bipartisanship. We’ll soon see if that helps with balking Donkeys in the Senate.