The significance of Sen. Arlen Specter's (Pa.) decision to abandon the Republican Party and become a Democrat has been "overblown," Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Senate Banking panel huddles with regulators on bank relief Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief MORE (D-Ohio) said Wednesday.

During a conference call with reporters, Brown was asked whether Specter's party shift enhances Democrats' chances of passing a major healthcare reform bill this year.

"I don't think it has that much impact. I think the Specter party switch is probably overblown by all of us," Brown said, who also said he always expected Specter would collaborate on health legislation this year.

Echoing Specter's comment Tuesday that he won't be an automatic vote on all Democratic bills -- or to break a GOP filibuster -- Brown said that one senator flipping to the majority isn't the same thing as if Democrats increased their margin by several members.

- Jeffrey Young