I was listening to Rush Limbaugh yesterday and he repeated something he has said before. That the Republicans hands are tied since they have only 40 members in the Senate and a minority in the House. This lets the Republican Senators and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell off the hook when 2 or 3 of them go rogue and vote with the Democrats on bills like the huge stimulus package early in 2009 (see Specter, Collins, and Snowe). This gave 3 Democrats in red states cover to vote against it, and the slightest appearance of bi-partisanship.
With the health care bill on deck and even in the case of a Sotomayor confirmation vote, if those 40 (R) senators could just once vote the party line, it most likely would make all the difference. When it comes to the health care bill, it comes down to this: if all 40 (R) senators vote NO, it doesn't pass, plain and simple. There will be at least one Democrat who will not vote for cloture on this thing. However, if a small group of those 40 defect and compromise with the 60 Democrat senators, both parties will own it, plain and simple. It doesn't matter if only 5 (R) senators vote Yea and 35 vote No, in the eyes of the voters, both parties will have brought socialized healthcare to fruition.
So, I think Rush and others need to hold the feet of these 40 to the fire. It is well past time for a party line vote on economy changing legislation. Even the House did it once when Obama's stimulus came up, but the Senate could not keep it's small group of 41 (before the Specter switch) together. No more excuses.