Via the Washington Post:
A key Senate committee easily approved a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health-care system Tuesday afternoon, clearing the way for President Obama’s top domestic initiative to advance to a historic debate before the full Senate, perhaps as soon as next week. The vote was 14 to 9.
Republican Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine broke with her party and joined all 13 Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee in voting for the package, which would spend $829 billion over the next decade to make health insurance affordable for millions of Americans who would otherwise go without coverage, according to congressional budget analysts.
Ms. Snowe will most assuredly face the wrath of her party for breaking from their ranks, but she — at this stage at least — decided to go with needs of the many versus the needs of the party (and an eye to a soundbite), saying as she announced her intention to vote for the bill, “Is this bill all that I would want? Far from it. . . . But when history calls, history calls.” (As several wags have noted, she sure let the phone ring for a pretty long time.)
Now it’s on to a conference committee to merge this bill with the one passed by the Health, Education, and Labor Committee, then on to debate on the floor.
There is not, at this point, a public option. Not yet.