February 14th, 2010
05:24 PM ET
5 years ago

Kyl casts doubt on White House's efforts at bipartisanship

On two key Democratic legislative agenda items, Sen. Jon Kyl suggested Sunday that Senate Republicans may not support measures backed by leading Democrats on Capitol Hill.
On two key Democratic legislative agenda items, Sen. Jon Kyl suggested Sunday that Senate Republicans may not support measures backed by leading Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Washington (CNN) – A leading Senate Republican essentially said Sunday that his GOP colleagues are not terribly interested in President Obama’s recent efforts at bipartisanship.

On two key Democratic legislative agenda items, a jobs bill and a comprehensive health care reform bill, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, suggested Sunday that Senate Republicans may not support measures backed by leading Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Late last week, in a rare show of bipartisanship, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Montana, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, unveiled a $85 billion jobs bill which observers believed at least some Senate Republicans would have supported. Within hours of the unveiling of the Baucus-Grassley jobs bill, however, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, announced his intention to present a much smaller $15 billion jobs bill to the Senate when it returns from an upcoming weeklong recess. The slimmed down Reid version of the jobs bill also contains provisions which Senate Republicans might be expected to support like tax incentives to spur small businesses to hire and buy equipment.

Related: Jobs bill advances . . . or does it?

But, Kyl said Sunday on State of the Union that his fellow Senate Republicans may not back the Reid bill and the Senate Republican Whip made a special point of emphasizing the abrupt way in which the jobs bill has been handled in recent days.

“For one thing, I'm very confused about - in fact, I was a little embarrassed,” Kyl told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “I was answering a question at a press conference on 1:30 on Thursday about examples of bipartisanship, and I pointed to the [Grassley-Baucus] bill that you alluded to as a good example of bipartisanship, and then found out about a half an hour later that, during [the Senate Democrats’] luncheon, Harry Reid had scrapped [the Grassley-Baucus bill] - some said pulled the rug out from under Chairman Baucus - and come with this - with this [smaller] bill.”

After Kyl detailed his personal differences with the smaller jobs bill proposed by Reid, Crowley asked whether Republicans run the risk of being seen as ‘”the party of ‘no,’” a frequent Democratic dig in the last year at congressional Republicans, for not supporting measures which they had supported in the past in various permutations.

“My response earlier was that this is not a proposal that Republicans had made,” Kyl said emphatically. “We have a different small business approach. The goal is the same. We believe that our approach would be more effective than spending the money that the president proposes to do it this way. I don’t know if Republicans will support [the Reid jobs bill] or not. All I was saying was that this was not what we had proposed in the past.”

On the issue of health care reform, Kyl also suggested Sunday that Democrats may not be acting in good faith in their invitation to sit down with Republicans at a televised health care summit hosted by the White House and set for February 25.

Related: Obama, Republicans spar over starting point for health care summit

Kyl pointed to recent reports that congressional Democrats could use a Senate budgetary procedural device called “reconciliation” to pass some aspects of their health care reform agenda without the 60 votes typically necessary to block a filibuster.

Even though the Senate and House have both passed their own versions of health care reform legislation, the bills have differences which Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have been struggling with and trying to negotiate within Democratic circles. One proposal that has been floated is to take those provisions backed by Democrats in both chambers that fall within the scope of the “reconciliation” process for budgetary measures and make them a separate bill which would only require 51 votes in the Senate, a number Senate Democrats should be able to deliver because the Senate Democratic Caucus has 59 members.

“I don’t know why we’d be having a bipartisan summit down at the White House if they’ve already decided on this other process by which they’re going to jam the bill through,” Kyl told Crowley.

If Democrats have already settled on using reconciliation, Kyl added, “then obviously it’s pointless to talk [at the planned summit] because they’ve made up their minds and they’re going to ram it through whether [Republicans] like it or whether the American people like it.”

In an effort to bring congressional Democrats and Republicans closer together, last week President Obama held the first of a promised series of regular bipartisan gatherings at the White House where congressional leaders from both parties sat down personally with Obama.

Afterwards, the president shared his thoughts on what bipartisan give-and-take should mean.

Bipartisanship on health care reform cannot mean only that "Democrats give up everything they believe in," the president told reporters after the meeting.

"Bipartisanship depends on a willingness among both Democrats and Republicans to put aside matters of party for the good of the country," Obama also said.

In addition to last week’s White House gathering with congressional leaders, in an unprecedented event late last month, Obama took questions from House Republicans on live television. The live, unscripted event was an effort by Obama to demonstrate greater transparency as well as his knowledge of Republican policy proposals and his willingness to work with the GOP in an atmosphere where the public has become increasingly weary of partisan bickering in Washington.

Related: Obama takes tough questions from House GOP


Filed under: Congress • Democrats • GOP • Health care • Jon Kyl • Popular Posts • State of the Union
soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain

    Oh, Puh-leeze! Will Republican ninnies ever stop their whining?

    They got their fannies handed to them last week by President Obama, when he – WITHOUT A TELEPROMPTER and on LIVE TV – met with the Republicans on their turf and answered questions.

    (Those of you who only watch Fox probably don't know this, since Fox cut the feed once they figured out that the President was ripping the GOP.)

    The REAL reason the Republicans don't want to meet with President Obama is because they know that as their policies for our country see the light of day – the same tried-and-failed "ideas" that got us into this mess – not only will the President re-hand them their fannies, so will the American people AT THE POLLS!

    February 14, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. Dennis in AZ

    Sen. Kyl was trying to make nice without appearing to cynical. The Administration doesn't want bi-partisanship–they are still under the impression the American people coronated them to do what less than 20 percent of Americans want. Self-delusion–it seems to be good work if you can get it. For all the plans the Republicans have though–you sure don't hear about any details of those plans in the media.

    February 14, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  3. Monster Zero

    Obama's attempt at bipartisanship is too little too late and only resultant of their own failures. Anybody else seen the House Democrats and Republicans explaining their development of HR3200, while Nancy, Harry and Barry met in the backrooms with the lobbyists and special interests to come up with the 2,000 page bill we nearly got shoved up our arse? Even now the threat of trying to use reconciliation to pass something other than fully promulgated legislation as intended under our Constitution is hanging on his every un-uttered word. As Obama starts to read the writing on the proverbial teleprompter wall, it will be an all out dash to pass anything and everything to move the agenda of disruption!

    February 14, 2010 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    We've watched where the anti-bipartisanship came from, and independents all over the country are trying to get republicans voted out in their states and districts. It's sickening to watch them with their "waterloo" tactics - holding up business for citizens.

    February 14, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. Hammerer

    Bipartisanship as according to the Dem--- surrender or else.

    February 14, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  6. gary

    it's pretty obvious the GOP isn't interested in working with the DEMS. They are having a hard time figuring out how to not cooperate and make it look like the DEMS fault. It will even be harder on live TV.

    February 14, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  7. nick

    The GOPers are still the party of, "My way or the highway," .... or just plain, "H... NO!"

    February 14, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. Aspen Professor

    Washington (CNN) – A leading Senate Republican essentially said Sunday that his GOP colleagues are not terribly interested in President Obama’s recent efforts at bipartisanship.

    On two key Democratic legislative agenda items, a jobs bill and a comprehensive health care reform bill, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, suggested Sunday that Senate Republicans may not support measures backed by leading Democrats on Capitol Hill.

    WHAT HYPOCRITICAL, PHONY REPUBLICANS THESE ARE!
    I am a very disgusted registered Republican and a Moderate Republican. These current turkeys in Congress are being led by the nose by right-wing extemists of the worst ilk. These fools will vote for nothing that Obama proposes, no matter how the Bill benefits Americans. They seem to be racists, extremists, ignorant, off-shore nation building, blantant lying fools.

    February 14, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  9. Tom B

    CNN – please call these Republicans what they are: power hungry obstructionists who would rather regain power and see America fail than actually improve our country. They are quite frankly sick...

    February 14, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. Charlie in Maine

    Dude where's my healthcare?

    Obama promised he would talk with rougue states so I am not surprised with his outreach to the GOP it is not his fault they are too stupid to meet him half way.

    February 14, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Kyl and his republican colleagues have never shown much interest in working for the American people. As long as we continue to pay him for doing nothing, he is a happy little moron on welfare.

    February 14, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  12. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    Kyl is one of the main reasons that conservatism is dead.

    February 14, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Kyl's "GOP colleagues are not terribly interested in President Obama’s recent efforts at bipartisanship." Keeping in goosestep with the just-say-no approach. Aren't these folks American? Don't they believe the handshake is stronger than the fist?

    February 14, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. Big John

    Who would think the party of NO would have any other response than to not co-operate? They think it's a TRAP.. they may actually have to come up with some of their own ideas. They don't want to co-operate because their ideas are nothing but ZERO! They have nothing to add to the welfare of this country. The republicans are trying to destroy this country. Party of NO!
    Pathetic!

    February 14, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. CharlieG

    What a bonehead. Why would he ADMIT this? Folks with an IQ above 75 already know this, but now he spells it out for the other 90% of his constituency!

    February 14, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. Positive

    There's the GOP for you. They don't care about bipartisanship and they don't care about doing anything to help promote jobs or help improve the economy or lower the deficit or anything else that might actually be useful. But they have plenty of energy for negativity!

    February 14, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. Brian Dodge

    "this is not a proposal that Republicans had made" and "this was not what we had proposed in the past.”

    If it's not a Republican proposal, they won't support it.

    The Republican definition of "bipartisanship" means Democratic support of Republican proposals, and NO on anything else.

    February 14, 2010 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. Liberalism is a Mental Disorder

    of course the dems will not demonstrate bipartisanship. They haven't yet so why would they start now....BHO will pull out the "I won" card again.

    February 14, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  19. Donal

    The biggest impediment to bipartisan cooperation in Congress is the Republican members. All of them.

    February 14, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  20. Don of Iowa

    Of course Kyl sees little chance of bipartisanship, the Repugnant party is based on partisanship and just wants to say NO to everything that isn't their idea and even some that are their ideas if the Democrats feel they are good and include them, all you have to do is look at the history of who has voted how this past year to see the real 'truth'.

    February 14, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  21. Robert - Houston, Texas

    There is no incentive for them to get anything done.
    We need to evaluate how our congressmen are paid.
    No more salaries. 100% commission only. For every bill passed, each congressman/woman can receive a modest commission.

    Everyone wants to get paid so I assume they will work together to get something passed.

    February 14, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  22. Nathan

    I would just like to say that I appreciate bipartisanship. But, it has to be with the goal of encouraging debate, which requires the presentation of facts. It can't be done just for the sake of bipartisanship. With the notions of "death panels" and killing Medicare, I am appalled by a lot of the rhetoric, which hasn't come as much from the left as people think. Let's debate facts, not bipartisanship.

    February 14, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  23. AHS

    Hey guys, in both parties, better forget the sparing, and watch out for Chavez style dictatorship to develop with Obama claiming executive orders are better than congress or "We The People" rule. Some one needs to arrest the entire Presidential cabinet before we are drowned in the complete take over of America by the Chicago gang.Every move made is in the interest of completely wrecking this entire country.Lies and broken promises are all we get from the White house and most of Congress.And you didn't hear this from Rush or Hanity or Beck.This is just the way it is from the grass roots.

    February 14, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  24. roma

    I can honestly say that I am sick and tired of bipartisan politics. If republicans refuse to support a bill just because it was created by a democrat I will be furious. I feel like politicians are more concerned about their political party than they are the people they are SUPPOSE to be representing.

    February 14, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  25. Debbie

    Kyl can't say he question the White House's effort of bipartisianship when they have openly since a year ago extended their hand. Since then the GOP cries no one is bi-partisian when in reality they just obstruct and then say if its not our way then its no way.

    Democracy is that our representatives in Congress represent the people. Currently there are more people in America who have elected Democrates than GOP. Obstructing, doing nothing but saying no, working hard at dividing American is not helping the GOP cause. It just shows they show their allegiance to their party than to American Democracy.

    February 14, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
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