As one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection in next years midterm elections, Lincoln was in a tough position as she sets the stage for her reelection campaign. A vote against the Baucus version of healthcare reform would have been a strong signal that Southern support for the type of reforms that are being offered is quite limited. Having declared that she will support the bill in committee does not neccessarily mean it is popular down South. It could be in large part due to a great deal of strongarming being conducted by Democrat majority Leader Harry Reid.
Reid has been keeping his conference on a short leash and I am sure that Blanche Lincoln is hoping that the Democrat Senate Campagin Committee will invest much needed resources into Lincoln’s reeelection bid. A vote against the bill while in committee would not have helped to solidify a committment to her campaign from the DSCC.
This does not mean that Senator Lincoln is beholden to continue supporting nealthcare reform. She could still oppose the final bill that comes before the full senate after a number of different versions are merged together into one final version.
As it stands now, the Senate Finance Committee’s vote on the Baucus version of healthcare reform will be 13 Democrats and One Republican for it and 9 Republicans against it. That is of course if the only remaining wildcard sticks with the Republican position on the issue. Olympia Snowe will be the lone Republican to vote in favor of the measure. Her vote will allow Democrats to exaggerate a claim of bipartisan support for healthcare reform.
Snowe’s vote for the bill, could cost her dearly. It could prevent her from replacing retiring Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson as the ranking Republican on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
Senator Snowe is next in line for the post but her breaking from the ranks on healthcare reform, risks her moving into that position as fellow Republicans deny her enough of their votes to get the job.
Snowe could change her mind and oppose the bill in the full senate when the final bill is posted. According to Snowe, she will vote it out of committee because she wants the process to continue but she will await a final decision after the final figures from the Congressional Budget Office come out.
For now though, Democrats will be declaring a bipartisan victory of sorts. However, one liberal Republican does notr necessarily constitute bipartisanship.