Providing a major boost to Democrats pushing for a health overhaul, Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe -- the most watched lawmaker in Washington right now -- has announced that she will back a sweeping healthcare bill being debated by the Senate Finance Committee.
"When history calls, history calls," she said in announcing her plans after a long recitation of the problems confronting the American healthcare system, including rising costs and the swelling ranks of the uninsured.
Snowe cautioned that she reserves the right to vote against a healthcare bill when it reaches the Senate floor, likely later this month. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is working to combine the Finance Committee bill with a more liberal bill developed by the Senate Health Committee.
"My vote today is my vote today," Snowe said. "It doesn't foretell what my vote will be tomorrow."
Snowe is the first Republican on Capitol Hill to signal support for the healthcare campaign being pushed by President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress. The committee is to vote today on the bill.