Senator Dick Durbin's Headaches

Poor Dick Durbin. The democratic whip presides over the party's largest majority in the Senate since the Carter administration. Yet on contentious issues, like health care, he has to threaten, flatter, and cajole to get the support he needs. Durbin's good friend President Obama wanted a Senate vote on health reform by next month, but Democrats decided last week to put it off. Score one for the wayward Dems and zero for Durbin. His next task is to get the bill passed by Obama's October target date. NEWSWEEK looks at the senators mostly likely to be Durbin's migraine on health care—and a few GOPers who may offer an aspirin.

BLANCHE LINCOLN: Targeted by ads in her state, she's wavering. From 1 to 10, she's a 5 on the migraine scale.

JOE LIEBERMAN: Technically an independent, he opposes a public plan for now. Score him a 7.

EVAN BAYH: Voted against Obama's budget and the $410 billion omnibus spending bill. He's a 6.

RON WYDEN: Wants to change health benefits' tax status and favors subsidized private coverage. Give him an 8.

BEN NELSON: LIBERALS call him a DINO (Democrat In Name Only). He was a holdout on the stimulus plan. 9

MARY LANDRIEU: After a tough Louisiana race, she wants to burnish her centrist bona fides. 6

KENT CONRAD: He's worried about inadequate cost reductions and is pushing for a nonprofit co-op. 7

CHUCK GRASSLEY: As ranking member of Senate Finance Committee, his support is like 10 aspirins for Durbin.

OLYMPIA SNOWE AND SUSAN COLLINS: The two Maine senators tend to vote in tandem. Both have supported the president's plans and are the most likely GOPers to cross the aisle on health care. Seven aspirins apiece.

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