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Bingaman May Hold Key to Markup

In 2008, Bingaman voted with his caucus 99 percent of the time and received a 50 percent voting score from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Another lobbyist said Bingaman’s low public profile belies his influence on Finance panel Democrats, particularly among liberals on health care issues.

“It matters to them whether he supports [a proposal] or not,” the lobbyist said. “His role in the health care debate has been one where the more progressive, liberal Democrats trust him — even if they may come to a different result, they know Jeff has taken the time to learn the issue. He’s filling some of the void left with Ted Kennedy leaving.”

Another lobbyist downplayed Bingaman’s possible role in Tuesday’s markup, arguing that Tuesday will be Baucus’ show. The Land of Enchantment’s senior Senator and the other 12 Finance Democrats, the lobbyist said, will fall in line.

“You’re not going to find three Democrats who are willing to buck the chairman,” the lobbyist said. “Baucus is in control of this committee on the Democratic side.”

“Everyone is saying their piece [publicly], but in private meetings Senate Finance Committee Democrats are telling Baucus they’re on board,” the lobbyist continued. “The politics are way too big on this. It’s bigger than these individual Senators.”

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