Rockefeller’s and Cantwell’s Pledge to Vote No Over Public Option, Makes Snowe Vote Key for Bill to Leave Committee

Daily Kos is reporting that Organizing for America is sending emails to Democrats in Washington State to pressure Senator Cantwell to change her pledge to vote no on health care reform unless the Senate includes a public option. Senators Cantwell and Rockefeller have both pledged to vote No if the bill does not include a public option.

The Organizing for American email reads in part:

We need to pass a reform bill out of the Finance Committee and that comes down to just a few critical senators — including yours, Senator Maria Cantwell….

The question is will Rockefeller and Cantwell stick by their pledge? Since they are both on the Senate Finance Committee will it mean the bill cannot get out of Committee? Will Cantwell and Rockefeller hold the bill up in Committee until they get what they want, or does their pledge apply after the bill leaves Committee? It sounds like Organizing for America believes the pledge applies to the Committee vote.

If both Rockefeller and Cantwell vote no in Committee, then the Democrats must get Snowe’s vote to move the bill out of Committee.

Snowe’s support seems to hinge on the public option trigger, and a CBO score of the Committee bill before they vote — and for CBO to score the bill they need to see the legislative language, not a “conceptual bill,” written in essay form. CBO says it will take two weeks to produce the score, from the legislative language.

Here is an interesting exchange between Senators Snowe and Baucus yesterday, from the National Journal:

“A defeated amendment to require final CBO scores before the Finance Committee votes on healthcare legislation has opened a potential divide between Democrats and Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine — the lone Republican who might support the Democrats’ bill.

Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., proposed the amendment, which would require committee staff to post legislative language and final CBO scores on the panel’s Web site three days before members vote. The committee, which typically works off of conceptual language written in plain English, was planning to vote based on preliminary CBO scores.

CBO Director Elmendorf said Tuesday final scores would take two weeks.

“I just don’t think that’s is acceptable,” said Finance Chairman Max Baucus, who voted against the amendment along with every Democrat except Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.

But Snowe came down vehemently on the opposite side.

“I truly do not understand the skepticism about this request,” Snowe said. “This is about doing our job. If it takes two more weeks, it takes two more weeks. We’re talking about trillions of dollars in the final analysis.”

“Is there something happening in two weeks that we cannot wait?” she continued. “Is it the Columbus Day recess? What is it? Because I don’t get it.”