Don’t mean to give you more indigestion on a Saturday night, but thought you should see this from The Hill:
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)…is still in talks with President Barack Obama regarding her final vote on the legislation. Snowe said that she spoke to Obama while he was aboard Air Force One en route to Asia earlier this week…”He restated his intention of working with me on this issue,” Snowe told a group of reporters. She said that there “there are still fundamental issues that still need to be confronted” before she would considering voting for the bill during later votes…Snowe did not define how many Republican senators would be needed to call the bill bipartisan, but said “I hope it is more than just me.” She also called on the president to attract more Republicans to vote for the bill. “This is a place where the president could play a pivotal role,” she said.
Liberal Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a vocal proponent of the so-called public option as part of healthcare reform, is working behind the scenes to work out a potential compromise with centrist senators, Democrats said Saturday night.
Schumer’s office pushed back on these reports, saying he is merely in conversations with his fellow senators, but Schumer has been an active negotiator and a leader on crafting versions of the public option throughout the debate.
Anticipating a major struggle, the White House deputized Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to join Vice President Joe Biden in trying to clear the way for the bill’s approval over the next several weeks.
Salazar, a former Colorado senator, is viewed as a bridge to moderate Democrats who are far outnumbered by liberals inside the Democratic caucus.
Daschle was Obama’s first choice for secretary of health and human services, a position from which he was to try and oversee the administration’s drive to enact health care legislation. He withdrew his nomination when it was disclosed he had not paid more than $120,000 in federal taxes over several years.
The Hill reports that former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle helped Obama Administration officials strategize to win health care reform votes from Senators on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Daschle, who announced this week that he was leaving Alston & Bird for another lobbying firm, DLA Piper, “is unexpectedly at the heart of Washington’s highest-level negotiations at a key moment in the movement to reform the nation’s healthcare system. The ex-senator has repeatedly stressed he did not lobby for Alston & Bird and will not lobby for DLA Piper, but government watchdogs have noted both firms have many healthcare clients. Daschle’s title at DLA Piper will be ‘senior policy adviser'” (Bolton, 11/18).
USA Today reports that Daschle’s new firm “has a number of clients in the medical industry, including Rite Aid pharmacies and a New Jersey-based pharmaceutical firm called the Medicines Company that has spent $1.2 million on lobbying expenses with the firm so far this year” (Fritze, 11/18).