I arrived at the Senate side of the Capitol at around noon and ran into the Billionaires for Wealthcare again. They attempted to join their “employees” in the Tea Party protest, but the Capitol Police thought it best if they kept the two groups separate. As time passed, it really did seem like the 5-6 Billionaires were a whole lot more exercised than the tea-partiers. The Billionaires were that loud… I’m not certain what occurred after I left, but while I was with them, the group was able to thank two of their “business partners” in the Senate, Bob Corker (R, TN) and Chuck Grassley (R, IA) in person. Corker seemed happy to see them, even thanking the Billionaires for being there; Grassley seemed a little less enthusiastic.
After a spell, I decided to start tracking down Senators in the office buildings. The place almost seemed haunted; it was empty. I did run into a few Senators, but I wasn’t able to do much reporting.
As the eight o’clock vote drew closer, I received an email alerting me to a post-vote press conference. I didn’t have a lot of time to conjure up a question, so I went with something I had been thinking about for a few days: what Democratic Senator wants to carry a legacy as the one that killed health care reform? After all, if you are one of sixty votes for the package and it turns into a big ol’ mess, you will have cover – you were just one of sixty. But as an obstructionist joining with the Republicans? Well, in that case, you would have distinguished yourself, and probably in the wrong way.
I ended up asking Harry Reid if he thinks history is on his side – will it help him round up the votes he needs?
Immediately after the press conference ended, I stepped outside. There were about 50-75 people lined up on the sidewalk in the area that the Senators exit when they are heading to their cars. Af first, I thought all these folks were tea-partiers, but that assumption was disproved when Chris Dodd (D, CT) emerged. The crowd broke into spontaneous applause and swarmed the Senator, thanking him and asking for his autograph. Someone asked the Senator, “In all of your years up here, have you ever seen anything like htis after a vote?” Dodd responded, “Not after a vote on a motion ot proceed!” Everyone laughed. Dodd was ebullient; his smile was broad and toothy. I went to record the moment, but my camera’s batteries had gone dead.
I quickly replaced them, but by the time I finished, Dodd had left for the airport. About twenty minutes later, Jay Rockefeller emerged. He too was surrounded by well-wishers and autograph seekers. Another 30 minutes passed and the scene was repeated for Senator Sherrod Brown.
In all, the day had definitely been won by the Democrats.