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Snowe Keeps Coy on Support for Health Bill

Moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), possibly the only Republican who may ultimately support the Finance Committee’s health care reform package, was coy Tuesday on whether she would vote for the $856 billion legislation when it comes up for a final vote.Snowe, in her opening statement at the markup session of the committee’s bill, appeared to suggest that the package includes components that are both encouraging and unacceptable. Echoing Finance ranking member Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) criticism, Snowe complained that not enough time has been given to craft a workable plan.“The mark before us is a solid starting point. But we are far from the finish line,— Snowe said.Snowe was one of three Republicans to participate in the gang of six talks in Finance, where she, Grassley and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) attempted to negotiate a consensus health care bill with Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Democratic Sens. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.).Democrats have been candid that Snowe may be their best bet for GOP votes on the health care plan.The gang of six talks ended without agreement when Baucus chose to move ahead with the legislative markup. Republicans have charged that Baucus bowed to pressure from the White House and Senate Democratic leaders.“I, like Sen. Grassley, regretted that those negotiations prematurely concluded,— Snowe said.

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