Sen. Snowe Reverses Position On Individual Mandates

December 23, 2009 5:12 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

In October, the Senate Finance Committee approved a health reform bill "that would, for the first time, require every American to have health insurance." At the time, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), the only Republican to support the measure, invoked the call of "history" and the "consequences of inaction" to explain her vote:

With Ms. Snowe's support, the committee backed the $829 billion measure on a vote of 14 to 9, with all the other Republicans opposed.

"Is this bill all that I would want?" Ms. Snowe said. "Far from it. Is it all that it can be? No. But when history calls, history calls. And I happen to think that the consequences of inaction dictate the urgency of Congress to take every opportunity to demonstrate its capacity to solve the monumental issues of our time."

But it seems that, in the two months between then and now, history stopped calling Snowe's name.  In recent weeks, Snowe has joined in her party's efforts to block an up-or-down vote on the reform bill before the Senate.  And, amazingly, Snowe today supported a GOP motion to challenge the constitutionality of the individual mandate -- which was included in the bill she helped pass in October:

The constitutional point of order, authored by Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.), was defeated on a 60-39 vote, with Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) not voting. DeMint and Ensign argued the Reid bill would force citizens to purchase health care - which they said goes beyond the federal government's authority.

Snowe is not the only Republican to renounce the individual mandate after supporting it.  Last summer, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) argued on Fox News that "there is a bipartisan consensus to have an individual mandate." However, he reversed his position prior to the finance committee vote, saying, "I'm very reluctant to go along with an individual mandate."