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Emanuel Cites Snowe’s Importance in Ongoing Debate

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday aimed supportive comments at Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) — who is tentatively backing President Barack Obama’s health care agenda — saying she will continue to be an “important player— as the process goes forward.Emanuel, who appeared on PBS’ “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,— suggested the White House was angling for the 60 votes needed to pass the health bill over GOP filibuster threats instead of trying to move it under reconciliation — which would require only 50 votes. He indicated that Snowe would be instrumental in getting to a filibuster-proof majority.Snowe voted for the bill as it passed the Finance Committee earlier Tuesday, but she said her support is tenuous and would depend on how the legislation shapes up as it goes through the legislative process.Emanuel not only emphasized Snowe’s continued importance but tipped his hat to a proposal that she backs that would allow a public insurance option only under certain circumstances.“Sen. Snowe has the idea of a ‘trigger’ — people have to look at that,— Emanuel said.Obama would prefer to add a public option without the need for a trigger but has said he has an open mind to other ideas — even not having a public option at all.Emanuel said he and other White House officials were ready to “be up on the Hill immediately— to begin merging the three bills passed by committees in the House and the two approved in the Senate. Emanuel also said Obama is willing to consider new types of measures to boost the economy, noting that consumer demand is not what it should be and that employment continues to lag. “The job piece is what’s lagging, and that’s the part the president wants to see get another kick-start,— Emanuel said.

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