Crossposted at The Rockefeller Republican
Who is going to be the most powerful woman in America? Hillary Clinton? Michelle Obama? Sarah Palin? No. No. No. Susan Collins? Olympia Snowe? Maybe. The two senators from Maine are shaping up to be two of the most powerful members of the next Congress, male or female.
The failure of the Democrats to get to that magical number 60 in the senate means that they will have to get some help from across the aisle if they want to pass legislation, and centrist Republicans would be the obvious targets. Snowe has been called the most liberal Republican in the U.S. Senate, and has become widely known for her ability to influence the outcome of close votes and Senatorial filibusters. Susan Collins is a member of The Republican Main Street Partnership and supports stem-cell research. She is also a member of The Republican Majority For Choice, Republicans for Choice, The Wish List, Republicans for Environmental Protection, and It’s My Party Too. Her voting record is moderate, which has caused consternation among some hard-line Republicans.
The two have a history of reaching across the aisle to make things happen. On May 23, 2005, Snowe and Collins were two of fourteen senators, known as the Gang of 14, who forged a compromise on the Democrats’ use of the filibuster on judicial nominees. This action both curtailed the Republican leadership’s attempt to implement the so-called “nuclear option”, and broke Democratic opposition to three nominees brought to the Senate floor. This deal has been strongly criticized by both Democratic and Republican partisans, but the compromise did shift the center of gravity in the Senate at the time towards conservatives like Snowe. The Gang played an important role in the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito.
Together with Sens. McCain, Specter, and hopefully, Coleman, they will be in a position of considerable power for the foreseeable future. Let’s hope the Republican Party can have a big-tent approach and not shun those who will compromise to get things done.