The Senate Finance Committee today approved by a 14-9 vote the health care bill proposed by committee chairman, Sen. Max Baucus. The legislation by the Montana Democrat was hailed as one most likely to get some bipartisan support and pass on the Senate floor but it received only one Republican vote.
It was also the least costly of the five different bills proposed by Democratic lawmakers. The Congressional Budget Office said it will cost $829 billion over 10 years, versus the $1 trillion plus price tag on some of the other bills.
Several former Republican leaders -- like health and human services secretary under George H.W. Bush Dr. Louis Sullivan, and former Senate majority leader and presidential candidate Bob Dole -- had expressed support for Baucus' bill, but opinions of GOP committee members were unchanged.
Here's a look at some key senators and which way they voted and why:
Baucus has taken criticism from many, even from within his own party, for the provisions included in his health care overhaul bill.
For one, the senator has broken apart from the rest of the Democratic pack who say the option of a government-run insurance plan should be included in any reform bill. Baucus voted against two amendments offered by Democrats to add the public option to his bill, arguing that it would not pass on the Senate floor.
Baucus' bill also includes an excise tax on insurance companies for so-called "Cadillac" plans, high-value insurance plans that some say are responsible for high industry costs. Both Democrats and Republicans have argued against the excise tax. Those on the left are afraid that it would anger their base of union supporters who, in recent years, have often opted for a high-end insurance plan at the expense of higher pay. Republicans say any new taxes go against President Obama's promise of no additional taxes.
Baucus argues his bill provides a middle ground that would appeal to members on both sides of the political aisle.
Speaking at a press conference on the day he unveiled his bill, Baucus said his plan "represents an effort to reach common ground and a real chance for health care reform. And it is balanced, a common sense bill that can pass the Senate."
If his bill passes the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus will work with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee Chairman Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., to resolve the differences between the two bills in the Senate.
"It's time to get the job done," Baucus said today as he convened the session. "This is our opportunity to make history."
The Maine Senator said today she will vote yes on the Senate Finance Committee bill but reiterated her opposition to a public option and cautioned that she does not want the bill to get more costly as it moves forward.
"When history calls, history calls," Snowe said during the committee hearing. "My vote today is my vote today. It doesn't forecast what my vote will be tomorrow."
The centrist Republican has taken heavy criticism from some wings of her own party for siding with Democrats on many issues in the health care debate. Since the start of health care negotiations, the Maine senator has worked behind closed doors with officials from the White House and Democratic lawmakers to provide input and discuss various provisions in the bill.