Snowe has 'misgivings' about health bill, Christmas vote

Democrats from the White House to Capitol Hill are still holding out hopes of winning the support of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) for their healthcare bill. But despite major concessions made to centrist Democrats, Snowe has not yet jumped aboard.

"Yes, I do have misgivings because I understand that there are a lot of unintended consequences," Snowe said Tuesday. "We haven’t had this bill laid down in its entirety so it makes it difficult, I think, to make a decision on a bill in such a short timeframe."

ADVERTISEMENT
Snowe spoke to President Barack Obama on Monday and met Tuesday morning with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his staff to go over the outlines of the latest compromise version of the healthcare bill. Reid has opted to forego several key liberal priorities, such as the creation of a government-run public option health insurance program, to secure the votes of centrists such as Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)

A potential added benefit of Reid moving the bill toward the center as means of pulling his 60-member caucus together could be Snowe's vote and at least a hint of bipartisanship. Snowe also objected to the versions of the public option promoted by most Democrats. Snowe voted for the version of the bill approved by the Finance Committee in October; that bill did not include a public option.

But as she has at various stages of the process, Snowe complained that Democrats were rushing the bill -- a criticism she shared with Obama and Reid.

"Given the enormity and complexity, I don’t see anything magical about the Christmas deadline if this bill is going to become law in 2014," Snowe said.

Snowe has far from ruled out joining with Democrats on the bill, of course. "I’m going to keep working. I’m going to meet again with them tomorrow," she said. "You know, I’ve discussed this with the president, as well. I think they view the timetable differently."