Tuesday morning, the Senate Finance Committee is set to vote on the Baucus health care reform bill. With a controversial insurance industry-commissioned report on the bill just released yesterday (covered by the Wire here), and several senators with votes as yet undeclared, the stage is set for a dramatic morning. What can we expect? All eyes are on Republican Senator Olympia Snowe.
- Big Day for Insurance Industry Salon's Mike Madden, discussing the recently released and highly unfavorable insurance industry-commissioned report on the bill, points out that "[t]he whole back-and-forth sets up what could be a tense vote." Why? "The insurance lobby has enormous sway with members of the panel." But there's a downside for the insurance folks: "If the committee passes the legislation, insurers may have done themselves some damage in the long run; even moderate Democrats may not be inclined to take their study seriously, and could decide to be tougher on the industry than the existing bill would have been."
- Betting on Snowe ABC News' George Stephanopoulos writes that he puts the odds of Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), a crucial swing voter, voting for the bill at about 45 percent. Then there's about a 40 percent chance she'll vote it down, and 15 percent chance she'll refrain from voting altogether. Ultimately, he argues, "Baucus, Reid and Obama have negotiated in good faith and incorporated many of her ideas. Voting yes keeps Snowe at the table and keeps Dems from moving immediately to reconciliation."
- Hang on to Your Hats--There's Still a Long Way to Go CBS News' Mark Knoller gave a quick analysis on Twitter. The passage of the bill today, he writes, "will be hailed at the [White House] as a victory ... but [the] Finance Committee bill will have to be merged with [the] more liberal Health Committee measure," while the "public option is not assured." Senate Majority Leader Reid will help "merge the two bills and get the compromise to the floor of the Senate before [the] month's end," but after that it still has to be "reconciled" with the House version "and then taken back to each chamber for [additional] votes." The bottom line? Today's not the final showdown.
- Forecast: Public Option Possibilities and Snowe BooMan at blog Booman Tribune analyzes a Washington Post roundup and decides "[i]t looks like nothing is decided yet." But, he points out, Senators Carper (D-DE), Bayh (D-IN), and Nelson (D-NE), who are trying to "kill a public option," will be pitted against Senator Schumer (D-NY), who is pushing a hybrid public option proposal. "I believe this is Schumer's attempt to prove to Reid that he can get 60 votes for cloture for a public option," writes BooMan. "Carper says he is "chewing on" it. That signals weakness to me. I think we're going to get this done." Also, he notes, "I think there is a decent chance that Snowe will vote for the bill in Finance, but no one wants to announce anything now that might jeopardize that vote."
- It'll Pass "Committee chairmen," explains Jeffrey Young at The Hill, "generally don’t schedule a vote they won’t win, and at least two of the three [unsure] senators are likely to make a leap Tuesday in the hope the bill will improve as it moves forward."
Update, 11:45 a.m.: Ezra Klein is weighing in as well. "[T]he question," he says, "isn't whether the bill will pass. It's the margin by which it passes." And as for Olympia Snowe? "She's been given virtually everything she asked for. But there's talk that she might withold her vote to increase her leverage on the floor." If Snowe abandons the bill, that leaves Ben Nelson (D-NE) "as the eventual dealmaker," which is bad news: "On health-care reform, it's a lot more dangerous to leave the power with the most conservative Democrat than the most liberal Republican."