Oct. 13, 2009 -- 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:
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
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."
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine
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.
Snowe was one of the first to suggest the idea of a "trigger" public option, whereby a government-run insurance plan would kick in for any region where private insurance companies failed to provide affordable, accessible coverage to Americans.
She also voted against two amendments from her own party members to restrict federal funding for abortions and prohibit the federal government, state governments and local governments from forcing health providers to provide abortions.
But Snowe has also had to be courted by Democrats. She complained that Democrats were moving too fast and is said to want exhaustive debate time as a requirement for her support for any bill.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa
Grassley was one of the members of the "Gang of Six" bipartisan group that spent months behind closed doors negotiating a bipartisan bill but failed to come to a conclusion.
Since the group fell apart, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee has assailed Baucus' bill for imposing new taxes, making insurance mandatory and expanding Medicaid.
"This bill is moving on a slippery slope to more and more government control of health care," Grassley said today. "There's a lot in this bill that's just a consensus that needs to be done, but there are other provisions of this bill that raise a lot of questions."
He has also placed the blame on the White House for hindering bipartisan talks.
"We'd still be at the table if the people at the White House hadn't pulled the rug out from under Sen. Baucus on this," Grassley said in an MSNBC interview last week.
The longtime senator has, however, praised Baucus for his work in crafting the legislation to keep the bill's price tag considerably lower than other Democratic plans.
But the Iowa senator, who called Baucus' bill "the biggest expansion of a government program ever," voted against it.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
The West Virginia Democrat's main sticking point has been the exclusion of a public option plan. He tried to introduce such a plan as an amendment in Baucus' bill but it was shot down by a 15-8 vote.
A less liberal proposal for public option by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., did not get the required votes to pass either.
When Baucus first introduced his bill, Rockefeller said "there is no way" he would vote for it unless massive changes were made to it in the amendment process. Even after meeting with Obama on the health care issue, he stuck by his earlier rhetoric.
Despite his concerns about the lack of a public option Rockefeller said today he would vote for Baucus' bill but added that he thinks its necessary a public option be included, even if under a different moniker.
"I think the dialogue has been set in place and... the time has come," Rockefeller told fellow committee members. "The time is right."
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
The Oregon senator has expressed reservations about the Baucus bill, which he says limits choice, doesn't cut costs tremendously and would not provide affordable coverage to all Americans.
The Democratic lawmaker today expressed those concerns in the committee session but he voted yes for the Baucus bill.
"We clearly have more to do," Wyden said.
Wyden has been an active proponent of a public option and has called for an overhaul of the health care system for a long time.
"The fact of the matter is, the American people -- hard working Americans do not want to be forced to buy unaffordable insurance coverage from monopolies," Wyden said in an MSNBC interview last week. "They're going to want choice. They want to turn the tables on the insurance lobby. There are more of us than there are of them. ... The way this bill is written, you wouldn't have choices like members of Congress. You wouldn't have one choice."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah
Hatch's amendment to restrict federal funding for abortions failed by a 13-10 vote in the Senate Finance Committee. The Utah senator has been a fierce critic of the bill and other Democratic proposals.
"It's not the little, sweet little package that everybody thinks it is," he said in a Fox News interview last week. "That bill -- it spends too much. There's too much government, just too many taxes in that bill. And it's a very costly bill."
Like some of his Republican counterparts, Hatch has also spoken out strongly against any cuts in Medicare payments to doctors and has advocated strongly for medical malpractice reform.
Hatch voted against the bill in the finance committee.