CBS Cheers ‘Rebel Republican’ Olympia Snowe for Supporting ObamaCare
Cordes went on to tout Snowe’s history of going against the Republican Party: “This is not the first time Snowe has bucked her party. In 2006, she helped kill an amendment that would’ve federally banned gay marriage. And she voted in favor of allowing federal funding for stem cell research. This January, she joined Democrats to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and was one of only two Republican senators to support President Obama’s stimulus package.”
After Cordes’s report, co-host Harry Smith spoke with Senator Snowe and wondered why other Republicans on the Finance Committee did not support the legislation: “You’ve described this crisis as like the Titanic heading toward an iceberg and this being an opportunity to turn away from it. If there is no bill, and if there is no Republican support, will they be abrogating their responsibility to avert this crisis?”
Here is a full transcript of the segment:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Is this the most powerful woman in Washington?
STU ROTHENBERG [ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT]: She really is the swing – swing senator and that’s made her very, very significant.
RODRIGUEZ: We’ll speak with Maine Senator Olympia Snowe.
HARRY SMITH: Up next, she broke ranks with her party and voted for health care reform. I’m going to talk with a woman who some are calling the most powerful woman in Washington.
HARRY SMITH: Health care reform has achieved what President Obama calls a ‘critical milestone.’ Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee passed a bill, another was approved earlier by a committee led by the late Senator Edward Kennedy. And today, Senate leaders begin the difficult task of merging both bills. CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes has more. Nancy, good morning.
NANCY CORDES: Harry, good morning to you. And for the first time, Democrats can claim a smidge of bipartisan support and that’s because of one yes vote from one rebel Republican who’s now sitting in the catbird seat.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Rebel Republican; Is Olympia Snowe Most Powerful Woman in DC?]
UNIDENTIFIED MAN [SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE]: Ms. Snowe?
OLYMPIA SNOWE: Aye.
MAN: Ms. Snowe, Aye.
CORDES: When Olympia Snowe cast the lone Republican vote for the Senate Finance bill, she reaffirmed her place as a power player on Capitol Hill.
STU ROTHENBERG [ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT]: She is the focus of Democratic attention, Republican attention, and the national media’s attention. She’s really – she really is the swing – swing senator and that’s made her very, very significant.
CORDES: This is not the first time Snowe has bucked her party. In 2006, she helped kill an amendment that would’ve federally banned gay marriage. And she voted in favor of allowing federal funding for stem cell research. This January, she joined Democrats to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and was one of only two Republican senators to support President Obama’s stimulus package. Snowe’s health care vote was important to President Obama because it gives health care reform an air of bipartisanship and because he may need her help to pass a final bill.
JOHN MERCURIO [EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE HOTLINE]: It’s the most moderate bill and it, I think, probably stands the most chance, at the end of the day, of picking up not just the Olympia Snowes of Congress, but maybe one or two other members of the House and Senate.
HARRY SMITH: Joining us now from Washington is Senator Olympia Snowe. Senator, good morning.
OLYMPIA SNOWE: Good morning, Harry.
SMITH: Yesterday you said this bill, at least the Senate Finance version of this bill, has your support. You don’t guarantee it will have your support in the future as it moves into the process of being reconciled with the House versions. What are the things you will absolutely oppose as this moves – moves forward?
SNOWE: Well, I have said, of course, about the public option. Because I prefer in utilizing the private sector, as we do in this legislation, that doesn’t include a public option. I think the government would have a disproportionate advantage in the marketplace against private insurers. But at the same time, I want to make sure the insurance industry performs and that’s why we eliminate and prohibit many egregious practices. Also, we want to ensure affordability, that these plans actually produce affordable health insurance plans for the average Americans.
SMITH: Why do you think you were the only Republican to vote for this yesterday?
SNOWE: Well, it’s hard to say. You know, there’s so many philosophical and political differences in how to approach issues, and particularly in the health care arena. Everybody, obviously, has an opinion, a viewpoint, we’re all effected by it one way or the other. This product, though, in the Senate Finance Committee, to the credit of Chairman Baucus, who convened a group of six members of the committee, three Democrats and three Republicans. And so this became a product of more than almost four months of bipartisan intensive discussions. So that we couldn’t culminate a result and agreement didn’t mean to say that there weren’t places where we could agree. And I felt it was important to move this process forward on a lot of the issues in which we do agree. And obviously the legislative journey will produce, I think, even more improvements, hopefully, in this legislation. We at least have to try given the urgency and the crisis that exists within health care today.
SMITH: Let’s talk about that for a second. You’ve described this crisis as like the Titanic heading toward an iceberg and this being an opportunity to turn away from it. If there is no bill, and if there is no Republican support, will they be abrogating their responsibility to avert this crisis?
SNOWE: Well, I think we all will, absolutely. If we don't contribute to a result. And that means both sides. And I would hope that the Democrats would include Republican ideas. It’s not a question of who is giving the idea, it’s whether or not it’s a good idea. That’s how I review the legislation process. We’re talking about the near term future. This is going to be disastrous, as I said yesterday, it’s going to put the entirety of health care. It’s affecting individuals and families. We’re expected to spend $33 trillion over the next decade on health care. Are we saying we can’t reorder or reconfigure $829 billion within that $33 trillion to make it work for all Americans?
SMITH: Senator Snowe, thank you very much for your time this morning.
SNOWE: Thank you, Harry.
SMITH: You bet.