January 20th, 2010
03:56 PM ET
5 years ago

Gibbs says Republicans not serious about bipartisanship

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that Republicans are stalling on major legislative issues.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that Republicans are stalling on major legislative issues.

Washington (CNN) - Republicans talk about working with Democrats but don't follow through, stalling progress on major issues, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.

"They've got to want to work," Gibbs told reporters. "It has to be heart-felt."

Gibbs cited a GOP attempt to filibuster the defense spending bill last year, followed by an 88-10 vote in favor of the measure that included support from most Republicans.

Earlier Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told reporters that his party is ready to work with Democrats on finding middle-ground solutions for major issues.

"We're prepared to meet them in the middle for truly bipartisan solutions to the problems the American people sent us here to grapple with," McConnell said.

In response, Gibbs said: "I watched Mitch McConnell, whose party unity score in voting was 95 percent, talk
about being bipartisan - an interesting message."

Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee spent months working on a health care bill that included amendments proposed by Republicans, Gibbs noted. When the Senate eventually voted on a final health care bill that included much of the Finance Committee measure, no Republicans supported it.

"You can talk and you can meet and you can extend a hand, but if what you construct working with the other party, the other party is then unwilling to support, … you can't do that," Gibbs said.


Filed under: GOP • Mitch McConnell • Obama administration • Robert Gibbs
soundoff (190 Responses)
  1. john in binghamton NY

    You think?

    January 20, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. John, Brooklyn, NY

    Sadly, the Republicans CAN'T negotiate from the middle ground anymore (as Mitch McConnell has suggested) simply because they have cleansed themselves of any Republican members of Congress who represent anything but extremist neocon or theocratic ideology.

    The stalemate doesn't come from Democrats who don't represent the interests of Americans, its a Republican party that brutally punishes and financially expels anyone who is TRULY a MODERATE Republican.

    January 20, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. Chris

    Look at the pot calling the kettle black. BO campaigned on bi-partisanship. Now take a look at his signature agenda. Not one GOP signed on to health care.

    Gibbs is a clown and nothing more.

    January 20, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  4. Anna

    What a joke! Now the Dems will work in a bipartisan way. No more Chicago Politics! No more Nebraska deals, Louisiana purchase, at least when the American People find out about it.

    January 20, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. GREGOIRE

    Andy... what was your boss's score for voting party unity? Oh that's right... other than voting "present" on anything that could be used against him... he was the most LIBERAL senator on the hill. Obama had NO intention of being bipartisan... maybe now he'll HAVE to be. He's hoping for small miracles.

    January 20, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    The Republicans aren't serious about it??!!

    I know this guy's job is to be the Baghdad Bob of the Obama administration, but, really, it's not the Republicans making closed-door deals, excluding their opponents from Congressional meetings, and scheming and plotting to impose a society-changing, not to mention wallet-draining, health care welfare bill on Americans who obviously don't want it.

    The truth of the matter is that as the once-filibuster-proof Democrats were concerned, "bipartisanship" meant smiling and doing it their way.

    As to "We're prepared to meet them in the middle for truly bipartisan solutions to the problems the American people sent us here to grapple with," the Obama administration and the Reid-Pelosi Congress are so far to the left that "the middle" is out of sight over the horizon and any "middle" they're willing to approach is still on the ragged edge of socialism.

    January 20, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. Mitchell from MS

    No, Mr. Gibbs the only ones not serious about working together is the dems. In return they got THEIR CLOCKS CLEANED IN MASSACHUSETTS LAST NIGHT!!!! IN NOV. MORE OF THE BACK ROOM DEAL MAKING DEMS ARE GOING TO GET THROW OUT ON THEIR BUTTS IF THEY DON'T QUIT FIRST.

    January 20, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. ObamasRecordDefict

    The DAY I care about what Robert Gibbs thinks is the day I'll jump off a cliff.

    This guy is the perfect clown for OBOZO.

    January 20, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. Gary, Los Angeles

    Neither is Obama!

    January 20, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. Jeff

    Really Gibbs, no kidding? This is why, despite his honest efforts, President Obama should have abandoned the idea of bipartisanship A LONG TIME AGO !!! And look where things are now. Only "right" leaning legislation will be considered...anything even remotely "left" will be filibustered. The result?...little legislation that helps the majority of Americans when they need help the most will be passed. Now, moving to Canada is looking like a good option to me (seriously). There are REAL intelligent people there. I will sleep better leaving America. I do not want to, but I now fear America's world leadership is over. America is going to fall farther and farther behind the rest of the world. "Excuse me, I am seeking political asylum from America."

    January 20, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    I agree. Republicans are sore losers and will never work with democrats.

    January 20, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. Travis

    Republicans gave ideas to health care reform and no one listened. No tort reform was introduced nor was shopping over state lines. All democrats wanted was Government takeover. They don't care about people, just control over our lives. Good try Gibbs...

    January 20, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Lets all be honest here for a sec, Dems are the ones who a day or so ago where trying to see if they could ram healthcare before Scott Brown could be seated in the Senate and Republicans are the ones not looking to be bipartisan?

    To be fair though it is happening on both sides of the isle not just one or the other.

    January 20, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  14. Marcus Tate

    Democrats haven't exactly tried to work with Republicans at all, either. Since gaining their so-called "Supermajority", they have just forced all their bills through on party lines. And so far, they've not done so well. They've given us Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Sonya Sotomeyer as a Supreme Court justice, and they are currently ramming through a major healthcare bill that more than half of the country does not want. This bill will include free health care for the poor, illegal immigrants, etc. And even though they said it will not affect those who already have healthcare at work, it is proven that it will. It will also have an exorbitant price tag, and they appear to have no idea how they will pay for it besides. So personally, I do not necessarily view this loss of the "supermajority" as a bad thing. Checks and balances are a good thing.

    January 20, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. Steve (the real one)

    Gibbs is a partisan hack. The dems don't want to work with the GOP either! If they did explain the closed door sessions with the unions. If they did, explain why Pelosi stomped all over any proposal the GOP made concerning healthcare. All the liberals want is for the GOP to shut up and vote for the slop! No more, no less!

    January 20, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. Ruth

    I agree. Republicans are sore losers and will never work with democrats for the betterment of this country. Republicans are selfish and uncoperative.

    January 20, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    It's funny that now that the power is in the other side of the floor the democrates need the help of the republicans to realize their dreams of bunches of social programs. Both parties are losing the affection of their voters. More and more citizens are voting INDEPENDENT. Both parties are getting smaller and smaller. America is tired of the lies that all these politician spray in their campaign. They promises the Moon just to get a seat in DC and at soon as they get their big and clean office they forget the one that sent them over there. The Health Care Plan is necesary for everyone in this country, but first you need to separate yourself from the lobbies and sacrify a little of your outdoor activities that the big corporation offer for your services and favors.

    January 20, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. Rickster

    Question: Has there ever been a dumber Press Secretary than Bobby Gibbs?

    Answer: No

    January 20, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  19. WeThePeopleofVirginia

    Yeah RIGHT ! ! !

    Who was holding all the closed door sessions on healthcare?

    If ONLY this guys name was Pinocchio, he’s poke someone’s eye out in the back row of the WH Press Room.

    January 20, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  20. U.S. Common Sense

    Neither are the Democrats, Gibbs.

    January 20, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. bess

    didn't Gibbs get his parties mixed up? it's been the Democrat's that have shut out the Repub's from meetings and refused to listen and even admit that R's HAVE proposed options. Arrogant Dem's in DC.

    January 20, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  22. Me

    Gibbs would not know bipartinship if it bit him in the butt.

    January 20, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. On Point?

    So we elect someone who posed with very little clothing on in a magazine for the United States Senate. All because of manufactured anger by Tea Party and republican leadership. Just as in Haiti when one or two people yelled loudly that the biscuits were bad, and everyone believed them. So is it that the American populace is persuaded by the disallusioned because they get the most air time. And for this, we may lose an opportunity to provide health care to all and cut healt care costs. We are in debt due to tax cuts and non-regulation that happened over a period of 8 years. And we can't give the other party a 2 year chance to start to fix things.. How can Republicans offer amendments that were accepted and succeed in cutting out the public option and still not support health care? So whats your plan? Tax cuts and defense spending? Show me the money...

    January 20, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. Lee in TN

    Gibbs is absolutely right! These politicians are not willing to work with anybody. They have to have it their way or no way at all, no compromise.
    Mitch McConnell has been blowing smoke in the face of the American public for years. The republicans are on a mission to make Barack Obama unsuccessful, no matter how much it hurts the American people.

    January 20, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  25. Gary

    Republicans were not invited to the back room meetings for healthcare and all of their amendments were shot down by Democrats.....so it is very difficult for Gibbs to say that the Republicans aren't interested in bipartisanship.

    January 20, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
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