Dems don't have the 60 votes they need in the Senate

When Arlen Specter jumped ship and became a Democrat, he gave the Dems a filibuster proof Senate. But unless Democrats can change the law in Massachusetts, they won't be able to replace Ted Kennedy until next year. They don't want to wait that long -- mainly because the more people get to look at the legislation the more problems they will see with it. So to push it through, the Dems needed one single Republican vote. You would think that with the Republican Senators in Maine and a couple other possibilities, they could get it easily. After all, these Senators have voted with Dems on other health care proposals. Snowe seemed the most obvious person they could get. Her announcement on Tuesday is causing Dems to move to Plan B.

Senate Democrats are going to have to move forward on healthcare without a single Republican supporter after Sen. Olympia Snowe said Tuesday she could not back the Finance Committee’s bill.

Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) failed to win any Republican backer despite weeks of intense negotiations behind closed doors to strike a deal.

Snowe (Maine), who was one of three Republicans who backed the $787 billion economic stimulus package, was being lobbied heavily by the White House, and some centrists view her refusal to strike a deal with Baucus as troubling. But concerns about how the plan would be paid for prompted her to back away in the hours before its release.
“I do have concerns and I’m not sure they can be addressed before he issues [legislation] tomorrow,” Snowe said.

Faced with the prospect of having to pass legislation without Republican votes, Obama’s chief political adviser David Axelrod met with Senate and House Democrats on Tuesday to stress the importance of party unity on healthcare reform — a message most directly aimed at centrists who now are critical to its passage. . . . .

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