Power Coalesces Among A Few Senate Players, Not All Elected
Some key personalities in the Senate and White House are gaining influence over the health care debate. One obvious group of negotiators are those who shaped the committee bills and the leader of the Democratic majority, who will negotiate a final version of the Senate bill, Roll Call reports. The team includes only "Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.) - the No. 2 Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee - and a collection of senior White House officials advocating for President Barack Obama."
Other Senators said they would find their way into room, even if there presence is not physical. "There are other ways of being in the room," Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., a moderate, said. But, Reid is hoping to keep the guest list exclusive (Drucker and Pierce, 10/15).
A less obvious player could be the virtually unknown Alan Frumin, the Senate parliamentarian, who's office declined interviews to the Christian Science Monitor and refused to release biographical information. As the Senate's official rule-keeper, Frumin could move into the spotlight "[o]nce healthcare reform moves to the Senate floor, [where] procedural challenges which could gut the legislation will be the first line of partisan combat." Frumin will rule on the challenges, deciding which provisions stay in the bill, and which must be stricken (Chaddock, 10/14).