If Democrats had any hopes of winning Sen. Olympia Snowe's vote on a health care reform bill, the Maine Republican likely put an end to them on Wednesday when she cast a vote expressing the view that a key element of the legislation is unconstitutional.
Snowe was one of 39 Republicans who voted in favor of a resolution, introduced by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) that the reform bill, and in particular the individual mandate for people to purchase coverage, violates the Constitution's Fifth Amendment and the Commerce Clause.
The measure was ultimately defeated when all the chamber's Democrats voted against it. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okl.) was the only member not voting.
It was, as one Senate aide noted, another effort by the GOP to "kill this bill."
It also seemed to lock Snowe into a no vote on the whole bill. It's hard to imagine her expressing the opinion that the health care legislation is unconstitutional and then turning around weeks later and supporting it.
On a related note, the Senate acting on a bi-partisan basis agreed to move the time for the final vote on health care reform from 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning to 7:00 a.m. The window to get home in time for Christmas is, indeed, closing.