As Dems’ Hopes For Two GOP Senators Fade, A Third Gets Special Attention
The Senate Finance Committee's so-called "gang of six" will hold a conference call Friday to continue negotiations on a possible bipartisan health care compromise, as a Sept. 15 deadline set by Democrats approaches. "But the prospects of reaching such an agreement within 11 days have fallen as politics has crept further into the debate," the Washington Times reports. Two of the three members of the group, Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., "have been accused of walking away from the negotiations, which both deny" (Bellantoni and Haberkorn, 9/4).
Enzi's hometown newspaper, The Gillette News-Record, reports that he said at an event Tuesday, "[the health care bill] is going to take awhile and I'm pretty sure it's going to fail" (McManamen, 9/2).
The report kicked up a storm of skepticism about whether Enzi would continue working on the negotiations. "Despite some reports, I am still working with [Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.,] and other members of the so-called Gang of Six," he wrote, NBC reports (Strickland, 9/3).
Speculation about losing potential support from Grassley and Enzi has inspired Democratic leaders to more aggressively pursue Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, the other gang-of-six Republican. "The White House is reportedly giving special attention to the preferences of moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe on the issue of health care," CBS reports. Snowe has proposed a "trigger" option for the public plan, a compromise that would postpone the creation of a government-run insurer, giving private companies a chance to prove they can lower costs (Condon, 9/3).
Snowe has a record of bucking her party, CNN reports. She "has shown throughout her career that when it comes to voting, it's her principles and constituents that guide her, not her party." She has only voted with the majority of Republicans 57 percent of the time in this Congress (Hornick, 9/3).