Snowe Meets With Obama, Urges Slower Pace on Health Bill

Posted July 16, 2009 at 12:29pm

President Barack Obama’s drive for quick consideration of health care legislation in the Senate Finance Committee ran into a roadblock Thursday in the form of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who told the president during a White House meeting that the panel needs to take its time and get it right.

Snowe, who spoke to reporters at the White House following the meeting, said the committee “shouldn’t be constrained by an artificial timetable.— Rejecting Obama’s insistence on a Senate floor vote before the August recess, she said an agreement on a bill in Finance is possible within the next week and a markup could be completed before the Senate’s scheduled Aug. 7 departure.

But August, she said she told Obama, should be reserved for combining the Finance bill and legislation passed Wednesday by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Asked if Obama had bought into her argument, Snowe acknowledged, “That remains to be seen.— Snowe said she had even given Obama a working draft of the Finance panel’s deliberations to show him that the talks are substantive.

Obama met with Snowe for about 30-40 minutes after holding a session on health care with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). Nelson did not speak with reporters.

Snowe said she felt that given the number of people affected by the bill, the process shouldn’t be rushed. She indicated the Finance Committee frequently has to wait for scoring to come back as it methodically works through both the policy and tax portions of the legislation.