GOP Senator Olympia Snowe on Board With Health Reform...But There's a Catch

SNOWE TO SUPPORT SFC REFORM BILL.... Senate Democrats really sought Sen. Olympia Snowe's (R-Maine) vote in advance of today's Senate Finance Committee consideration of health care reform. Their efforts have apparently paid off -- the moderate Republican announced this afternoon that she will vote with the majority today.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said Tuesday she would vote to approve the healthcare bill before the Senate Finance Committee.

Snowe joined the committee's Democrats to vote in favor of Chairman Max Baucus's (D-Mont.) health reform proposal, characterizing her vote as a move to support moving forward with landmark healthcare reform.

This does not necessarily mean she'll vote for reform on the Senate floor, after the Finance Committee bill is merged with the Senate HELP Committee bill. Snowe wasn't especially subtle on this point today, reminding her committee colleagues, "My vote today does not forecast what my vote will be tomorrow."

In other words, too many meaningful changes to the Baucus plan will push Snowe away. The Maine senator apparently intends to keep the changes to a minimum as Senate leaders merge to the two committee bills.

With that in mind, Snowe has positioned herself as still the member whose opinions will help dictate the process. There was some talk that Snowe would lose her leverage if she backed the Baucus framework today -- if she were considered a "yea" vote for reform, Snowe would lose influence in the ongoing negotiations and Dems would stop trying to give her everything she wants -- but that's clearly not the case.

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