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A Bit More on That Surprise Kennedy Visit

Regarding yesterday’s Senate passage of the Democrats’ Medicare bill: If there was ever question about what force of nature compelled nine Republicans to switch their "no" votes of last month to "yes" votes yesterday, it’s been put to rest. Here’s a hint: It wasn’t because they like the legislation.

There was some early speculation that ads run by seniors groups and the physicians’ lobby over the July Fourth recess might have convinced the Republicans to join 129 of their House colleagues and support the bill. But according to today’s New York Times, all nine flip-floppers voted against the bill yesterday in the early stages of the vote were prepared to vote against the bill Wednesday. It was only after the surprise arrival of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), who hasn’t visited the Capitol since being diagnosed with brain cancer nearly eight weeks ago, that the Republicans recognized the bill had the final vote it needed for passage. Rather than going down with the ship, the nine switched their nays to yeahs.

So, technically, these nine supported the bill. But if they think the physicians’ lobby didn’t watch the process closely, they should probably think again.

As an interesting side-note, this is a different story than the one reported yesterday by The Dallas Morning News. It credited Texas Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison with supplying "crucial support for the bill." Actually guys, that was Ted Kennedy.

Correction: An earlier version of this post reported that the nine Senate Republicans switched their vote on Wednesday, July 9 after the arrival of Sen. Ted Kennedy. In fact the nine senators voted only once — in support of the bill – after Kennedy’s arrival.

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