USA Today Examines Specter’s Voting History, Impact of Moving to Democratic Party
Health reform advocates believe Sen. Arlen Specter's (Pa.) recent switch to the Democratic Party improves the chances of passing a health care overhaul this year, USA Today reports. Specter would be the 59th Democrat in the Senate, and if Democrat Al Franken is announced the winner of a Senate race in Minnesota, the majority party would have 60 votes and be able to block any Republican filibuster.
Although Specter has said he "will not be an automatic 60th vote" for Democrats, some believe his record indicates that he would support party efforts to overhaul health care. In the past, Specter has sought increased funding for medical research. He also was one of nine Senate Republicans to vote in favor of the CHIP reauthorization expansion this year and one of three Republicans to support Obama's economic stimulus plan. However, Specter voted against the $3.4 trillion budget approved by Congress on Wednesday.
Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said, "I think [Specter's] natural inclinations are to be supportive of meaningful health care reform." Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said, "Of course it moves us one vote closer on critical votes," adding, "I wouldn't presume to guess what his vote would be on any given issue, but I'm hopeful that he'll be supportive of President Obama's agenda" (Fritze, USA Today, 4/30).