Olympia Snowe

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Olympia Jean Bouchles Snowe was a Republican Senator from Maine from 1994 to 2013. (map)

Olympia Snowe served as the Sr. Senator for Maine

Record and controversies

Health Insurance Reform

On October 15, Snowe was the only Republican on the Senate Finance Committee to cross the aisle and vote in favor of health care reform legislation sponsored by Committee Chairman.[citation needed] She said, "When history calls, history calls," but she remained non-committal on future votes about health insurance reform.[citation needed] Her failure to support the "public option" as part of health care reform has been criticized, including by health insurance expert Wendell Potter.[1]

Potter noted that just this month, "in the midst of a serious economic crisis, Anthem Blue Cross, a subsidiary of insurance giant WellPoint, Inc., is suing Maine for rejecting its request for an 18.5 percent rate increase and granting a 10.9 percent increase instead."[2] He questioned "why Sen. Snowe’s desire for fairness doesn’t prompt her to focus on one key reason health care costs are skyrocketing — lack of competition in the insurance market. Dominant insurers are creating barriers to market entry for smaller, nonprofit insurers. Does anyone really think that a respected health plan, such as Harvard Pilgrim Health Care or Tufts Health Plan from the Boston area, could break Anthem-WellPoint’s hammerlock on Maine? Such companies have lower administrative costs and don’t answer to Wall Street tycoons. But the unfair market advantage of Anthem-WellPoint keeps smaller insurers at bay and blocks Mainers from having good, affordable health care choices. Without a public health insurance option, there is little reason to think there will be new market entrants to compete with Anthem-WellPoint. Indeed, there is every reason to believe people without good, job-based coverage will be worse off under the Finance Committee bill, precisely because it does not include a public health insurance option."[3]

Iraq War

Snowe voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in Oct. 2002.

On February 17, 2007, Snowe was one of seven Republicans to cross party lines and vote in favor of cloture on a non-binding resolution opposing the troop "surge". The measure failed 56-34.

Main article: Congressional actions regarding President Bush’s 2007 proposed troop “surge” in Iraq
For more information see the chart of U.S. Senate votes on the Iraq War.

Environmental record

For more information on environmental legislation, see the Energy and Environment Policy Portal

Global Warming Reduction Act

The Global Warming Reduction Act of 2007 (S.485) was introduced on February 1, 2007 by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) to "to amend the Clean Air Act to establish an economy-wide global warming pollution emission cap-and-trade program to assist the economy in transitioning to new clean energy technologies, to protect employees and affected communities, to protect companies and consumers from significant increases in energy costs, and for other purposes." The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance and also gained Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) as a co-sponsor.[4]

Main article: U.S. congressional action on climate change#Global Warming Reduction Act of 2007 (S.485)

"The Gang of 14"

On May 23, 2005, Snowe was one of fourteen moderate senators, known as the Gang of 14, to forge 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 Democrat opposition to three nominees brought to the Senate floor. The compromise precludes further filibusters and the implementation of the nuclear option for as long as the Gang of 14 holds together.

Under the agreement, the Democrats retain the power to filibuster a Bush judicial nominee only in an "extraordinary circumstance", and the three most conservative Bush appellate court nominees, (Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen and William Pryor), receive an up-or-down simple majority vote by the full Senate.

This deal has been strongly criticized by both Democratic and Republican partisans but, for the time being, the forging of this compromise has radically changed the center of gravity in the Senate towards moderates like Snowe. Another compromiser, Lindsey Graham (R-SC), has already suggested that the centrists attempt to find common ground on the difficult issue of Social Security reform, an issue on which both Snowe and Graham have signaled their dissent from the plans of President George W. Bush.

Common Ground Coalition brought on think tank's support

The Common Ground Coalition, founded to help form bipartisan legislation and led by Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), sought the help of the Bipartisan Policy Center, an off-the-Hill think tank, to suggest paths to compromise on contentious bills.[5]

During a time where both parties were strongly divided over Iraq war policy and Republican filibustering, the Common Ground Coalition echoed the work of the Gang of 14, although the Gang was formed to create compromise over the filibustering of judicial nominees specifically, and the Coalition was created to make bipartisan compromises on a range of issues.[6]

Network neutrality legislation

Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2006

On May 19, 2006, Sen. Snowe introduced a separate bill, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act S.2917, with several Democratic co-sponsors. The bill's summary states that it:

  • "Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to establish certain Internet neutrality duties for broadband service providers (providers), including not interfering with, or discriminating against, the ability of any person to use broadband service in a lawful manner. Allows providers to engage in activities in furtherance of certain management and business-related practices, such as protecting network security and offering consumer protection services such as parental controls.
  • Prohibits a provider from requiring a subscriber, as a condition on the purchase of broadband service, to purchase any cable service, telecommunications service, or IP-enabled voice service.
  • Requires a report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to specified congressional committees on provider delivery of broadband content, applications, and services." [7]

The bill stalled in Sen. Ted Stevens' (R-Alaska) Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.[8]

Main article: network neutrality legislation


Sam Patten was has worked as her speechwriter in the past.

General information about important bills and votes for can be found in Congresspedia's articles on legislation. You can add information you find on how Olympia Snowe voted by clicking the "[edit]" link to the right and typing it in. Remember to cite your sources!



Snowe was born February 21, 1947 in Augusta Maine. Her father emigrated to the United States from Sparta, Greece. Her mother died of breast cancer when she was eight, and her father died of heart disease barely a year later. Orphaned, she moved to Auburn, Maine, to be raised by her aunt and uncle.

Snowe attended the University of Maine in Orono, where she earned a degree in political science in 1969. Snowe later received an honorary degree from Bates College. Shortly after graduation, Bouchles married Republican state legislator Peter Snowe.

Snowe entered politics and rose quickly, winning a seat on the Board of Voter Registration and working for Congressman (later U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of Defense) William Cohen. Tragedy struck Snowe again in 1973, when her husband was killed in an automobile accident. At the urging of family, friends, neighbors and local leaders, Snowe ran for his Auburn-based seat in the Maine House of Representatives at the age of 26 and won. She was re-elected to the House in 1974, and, in 1976, won election to the Maine Senate, representing Androscoggin County. That same year, she was a delegate to both the state and national Republican conventions.

Congressional career

Snowe was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978, and represented Maine's 2nd Congressional District from 1979-1994. The district includes Bangor and her hometown of Auburn. She served as a member of the House Budget and Foreign Affairs Committees.

In February 1989 Snowe married John McKernan, then-governor of Maine. Snowe and McKernan had served together in the United States House of Representatives from 1983 to 1986.

Senate Career

In 1994, when Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell declined to run for reelection, Snowe immediately declared her candidacy for the seat. The Democratic nominee was her House colleague, 1st District Congressman Tom Andrews. Snowe defeated Andrews 60%-36%, carrying every county in the state; she was reelected in 2000 over State Senate President Mark Lawrence, increasing her winning margin to 69%-31%.

2006 elections

In 2006, the Democrats nominated Jean Hay Bright to face Snow in her November 2006 bid for reelection. (See U.S. congressional elections in 2006) [1] Snowe retained her seat.

Positions and Views

A moderate Republican in a Senate with 44 Democrats, 55 Republicans, and one independent, Snowe often affects close votes and filibusters. This has given her enormous political influence on contentious issues; Congressional Quarterly noted "her presence at the negotiating table in the 107th Congress . . . become nearly a necessity." Her moderate views have drawn attacks from conservative Republicans; the Club for Growth and Concerned Women for America label her a "Republican in Name Only" ("RINO").

Snowe was an important voice during the Senate's 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. She and fellow Maine Senator Susan Collins sponsored a motion that would have allowed the Senate to vote separately on the charges and the remedy. When the motion failed, Snowe and Collins voted to acquit, arguing that Clinton's perjury did not warrant his removal from office.

She recently announced that she will seek a third Senate term in 2006; she is a heavy favorite to win, and was reported in July 2005 - 15 months ahead of the election - to have raised over $1.2 million. [2]

A grassroots campaign has emerged to convince Snowe to seek the Republican nomination for the Presidency in 2008. [3] In February 2006, TheWhiteHouseProject.org[4] named Olympia Snowe one of its "8 in '08", a group of eight female politicians who could possibly run and/or be elected president in 2008.

Snowe is a self-described political moderate, whose independence in the Senate often marks her for complaints from more conservative groups, especially over her support for legalized abortion and gay rights. On other social issues like drug policy, travel to Cuba, and censorship issues like government regulation of the media and prohibiting flag-burning, Snowe is quite conservative. In fiscal matters and on defense, Snowe is generally conservative. She has been long-regarded as a hawk on foreign affairs, supporting both President Clinton's involvement in Kosovo and President George W. Bush's interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. On fiscal matters, she worked with Democrats to reduce the scale of the Bush tax cuts but supported the broad principle of cutting taxes as economic stimulus. She joined fellow Republicans, Sen. Lincoln Chafee and Sen. John McCain in voting against the tax cut bill of 2003. She voted against NAFTA, CAFTA, and most free trade measures. She is a strong supporter of environmental protections. Both Snowe and fellow Maine Senator Susan Collins were reluctant converts to limited gun control following the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Although she is pro-choice, she has expressed opposition to partial-birth abortion; however, she voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act because she felt it did not include the necessary exemptions.

Snowe lists her top legislative priorities as campaign finance reform, contraceptive coverage, assisting the growth of small business, prescription drug coverage, and student loan and child care funding.

In the 109th Congress, Snowe worked to ensure passage of a genetic non-discrimination act, which she had previously worked to pass for nearly eight years; opposed cutting loans through the Small Business Administration; offered legislation aimed at reducing the price of prescription drugs and insurance costs for small businesses; and became a leading voice among Congressional Republicans expressing concerns over President Bush's plans for the privatization of Social Security.

Money in politics

This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases. <crpcontribdata>cid=N00000480&cycle=2006</crpcontribdata>

Links to more campaign contribution information for Olympia Snowe
from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals

Committees and Affiliations


Committee assignments in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

Coalitions and Caucuses

  • Co-Chair, Senate Centrist Coalition, 1999-present
  • Member, Senate Arms Control Observer Group, 1995-present
  • Co-Chair, Congressional Caucus on Womens Issues, 1984-1995
  • Board Member, Board of Voter Registration, 1971-1973
  • Member, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
  • Congressional Fire Services Caucus
  • Senate Republican Counsel
  • Senate Rural Health Caucus
  • Senate Tourism Caucus
  • Senate Wednesday Group.

Boards and other Affiliations

  • Founding Member, Republican Main Street Partnership, 1998-present
  • Board Member, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 1997-present
  • Member, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
  • Board Member, Profiles in Courage Selection Committee
  • Public Advisory Committee, Population Institute

More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on Olympia Snowe. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.


DC Office:
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1903
Web Email

District Office- Auburn:
Two Great Falls Plaza, Suite 7B
Auburn, ME 04210
Phone: 207-786-2451
TollFree: 800-432-1599
TTYD Number: 207-955-3323
Fax: 207-782-1438

District Office- Augusta:
Edmund S. Muskie Federal Building
40 Western Avenue, Room 408 C
Augusta, ME 04330
Phone: 207-622-8292
TollFree: 800-432-1599
TTYD Number: 207-955-3323
Fax: 207-622-7295

District Office- Bangor:
One Cumberland Place, Suite 306
Bangor, ME 04401
Phone: 207-945-0432
TollFree: 800-432-1599
TTYD Number: 207-955-3323
Fax: 207-941-9525

District Office- Biddeford:
231 Main Street, Suite 2
Biddeford, ME 04005
Phone: 207-282-4144
TollFree: 800-432-1599
TTYD Number: 207-955-3323
Fax: 207-284-2358

District Office- Portland:
Three Canal Plaza, Suite 601
Portland, ME 04101
Phone: 207-874-0883
TollFree: 800-432-1599
TTYD Number: 207-955-3323
Fax: 207-874-7631

District Office- Presque Isle:
169 Academy Street, Suite 3
Presque Isle, ME 04769
Phone: 207-764-5124
TollFree: 800-432-1599
TTYD Number: 207-955-3323
Fax: 207-764-6420

Articles and resources


Related SourceWatch articles

Local blogs and discussion sites


Corresponding article on Wikipedia and Cause Caller. (If Cause Caller link does not work, pick from its list of senators and representatives.)

Current Office: U.S. Senate
111th Congress
Leadership Position:
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

110th Congress
Leadership Position:
Deputy Whip
Committees Chaired:
Ranking Member On:

Committees: Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation, Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation/Subcommittee on Aviation Operations Safety and Security, Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation/Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs Insurance and Automotive Safety, Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation/Subcommittee on Interstate Commerce Trade and Tourism, Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation/Subcommittee on Oceans Atmosphere Fisheries and Coast Guard, Senate Committee on Commerce Science and Transportation/Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure Safety and Security, Senate Committee on Finance, Senate Committee on Finance/Subcommittee on Health Care, Senate Committee on Finance/Subcommittee on Taxation IRS Oversight and Long-Term Growth, Senate Committee on Finance/Subcommittee on International Trade and Global Competitiveness, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Congressional Career
First Elected to Current Office:
November 8, 1994
First Took Current Office:
January 4, 1995
Next Election:
November 6, 2012
Term Ends:
Freshman Member?
Previous Political Work?
U.S. House of Representatives, Maine Senate, Maine House of Representatives,
Other Party Membership:
District Offices:
1. Two Great Falls Plaza, Suite 7B, Auburn, ME 04210
Phone: 207-786-2451, TollFree: 800-432-1599, TTYD Number: 207-955-3323 / Fax: 207-782-1438
2. Edmund S. Muskie Federal Building, 40 Western Avenue, Room 408 C, Augusta, ME 04330
Phone: 207-622-8292, TollFree: 800-432-1599, TTYD Number: 207-955-3323 / Fax: 207-622-7295
3. One Cumberland Place, Suite 306, Bangor, ME 04401
Phone: 207-945-0432, TollFree: 800-432-1599, TTYD Number: 207-955-3323 / Fax: 207-941-9525
4. 231 Main Street, Suite 2, Biddeford, ME 04005
Phone: 207-282-4144, TollFree: 800-432-1599, TTYD Number: 207-955-3323 / Fax: 207-284-2358
5. Three Canal Plaza, Suite 601, Portland, ME 04101
Phone: 207-874-0883, TollFree: 800-432-1599, TTYD Number: 207-955-3323 / Fax: 207-874-7631
6. 169 Academy Street, Suite 3, Presque Isle, ME 04769
Phone: 207-764-5124, TollFree: 800-432-1599, TTYD Number: 207-955-3323 / Fax: 207-764-6420

Campaign Contact:

Webform Email: / Email:

Campaign Offices:

Phone: / Fax:

Zip Code Affiliations:

Date of Birth: February 21, 1947

  1. Wendell Potter, "Public Option Essential," http://www.prwatch.org/PublicOptionEssential
  2. Id.; http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/125680.html
  3. Id.
  4. OpenCongress: S.485
  5. Emily Pierce. "Landrieu, Snowe Team Up With New Bipartisan Coalition," Roll Call. June 19, 2007.
  6. Emily Pierce. "Landrieu, Snowe Team Up With New Bipartisan Coalition," Roll Call. June 19, 2007.
  7. "THOMAS page on S.2917," THOMAS.
  8. "THOMAS page on S.2917," THOMAS.