February 14th, 2010
05:24 PM ET
8 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. Ed

    oobama's overture is a thinly-disguised attempt to save his democrates who will likely be purged in November when the electorate sanitizes Congress. Who in their right mind would trust him or be interested in his ploy?

    February 14, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  2. Just Me

    Surprise...Surprise. These people are obstructionist plain and simple. They have not intention of working to solve the nations problems. They have yelled to anyone who would listen that the President is not listening to their health care proposals, now they have an opporunity (which they had before. They were just straight up telling lies), they run for the hells yelling IT"S A TRAP. A spinless usless bunch if you ask me who needs to be thrown out of congress.

    February 14, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. Papasan

    Kyl has been in Washington way too long, time to retire!
    Arizona needs new representation in Washington, the Old Guard has special interests so deep into there pockets objective decisions can't be made anymore! Vote Out Incumbents!

    February 14, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  4. David

    Oh, gee, what did we all expect? Who really thought that the Republicans would accept Obama's outreach? They've done nothing but
    obstruct and divert ever since he took office. You can tell that they have a plan NOT to cooperate, but the American public us wising up to their antics. They're easy to see through. They take us to be idiots, and granted, many of their blind followers ARE, but the majority of Americans can smell their nastiness and mean-spirited words and actions. There's a long way to go until midterm elections, and I predict that the Republicans' true colors will be seen clearly and unmistakably for what they are by then.

    February 14, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  5. Jim

    Senator Kyl is just trying to justify the fact that the Republican election strategy this year is to not work on anything. This will all become apparent when they go to the Whitehouse and try to sneak out of dealing with health care. They are just trying to lay the foundation for the talking points they are all going to say after the meeting.

    February 14, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. Nick in IL

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

    Well then, it makes you look like the obstructionist you are and the American people will be sure to vote you out next cycle. You Republicans have placed yourselves between a rock and a hard place. You have so demonized this administration that you are now forced to either admit you were playing the fear card or work against your better judgment. In the end, a MAJORITY of American's want you ALL to work together and stop wasting our time and tax dollars. If you can not do that, YOU'RE FIRED!

    February 14, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Angela

    Well of course not. The Party of No will NEVER bend to extend a hand to better the country. They will only do things to better their pockets. This is no longer the UNITED States of America. Instead of accusing and pointing fingers WE THE PEOPLE must all get together and and WORK together to re-unifiy this country. To get things done. NOT through violence (RE: TEA PARTY ways) but through hard work – oh yeah, we do not know how to do that either.

    If you want things to change – then you yourself must change. You must be open to having to COMPROMISE in order to get things done. Otherwise there won't be a UNITED States of America or any type of country left. The people will be poor and hungry and the fat cats will be left hanging themselves.

    You want a better country? Then shut-up and DO something to BETTER the country. QUIT SAYING NO!!!

    All you sheep need a herder but until you realize that the sheep herder is leading you down the path of destruction (and no I am not talking about Obama – at least he is offering the olive branch) then expect to actually see a third world country first hand – OURS!!!

    February 14, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. Glenn Koons

    Obama the obtuse, as per usual. Oh bipartisanship is not having the Dems give up what they want! Oh puleeze. They have the votes. In over a year, they have not dealt with job creation, not even asking the US Chamber or other business groups to meet with them. As to Care, that Feb.25 mt. is a trap where by Obama hems and haws on public funding and then says, oh those mean Pubs. Look. It is time for the public to see how awful these socialist pacifist Dems really are. Stimulus failed. Tax and spending up more than Bush did in 8 yrs. Cap and Trade baloney, climate, no use of American domestic energy resources because of the enviro whack jobs that the Dems are beholden to. Sorry BHO. You failed and have all but bankrupted America in one year. And no one trusts you to protect us. Nov. cannot come too soon. BTW, Dems never talk of bi-partisanship unless their POLICIES are in trouble. Never.

    February 14, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. Gpenn

    Of course he is not interested. The GOP will not vote for anything that involoves Obama. They will continue to stonewall his entire term. It's all about the next elections and the heck with the public well being.

    February 14, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. TheTruthForOnce, NOT BS

    The republicans still think they are the ones in power. You can see this by Dickless Chenny who hasn't figured out he's not in office either nor McCain or Palin. These people had 8 years to ruin the country and they did a fine job of it. Now its time to get something done in this country, not be obstructionists and do nothing politicians.

    February 14, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  11. tmart

    “My response earlier was that this is not a proposal that Republicans had made,” Kyl said emphatically.
    –In other words, Kyl's definition of bipartisanship is that the bill MUST be introduced by the Republicans. (Which are the minority party, by the way. Which he has apparently forgotten.)
    On the other hand, I agree with him on the matter of the Reid bill, and I am very confused. Again, on the other hand, I would think that Kyl would be approving of Reid's much less costly bill, and Kyl can't pretend to not know what's in it.
    You know, though it frustrates me sometimes that the Democrats don't always agree, they are definitely a more dynamic and thinking group. Republicans are so unjustifiably resolute and hard-headed, there is no way in hell I would want to be one of them. The more to the 'right' they go, the more to the 'left' I want to go, just to get farther away from them! Do they not see how badly they drive others away from them!

    February 14, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Larry

    These clowns still don't realize it's not about partisan politics but it's about representing the American people in Washington.

    We're just going to start voting these morons out of office.

    February 14, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  13. Chipster

    No one should be surprised at this. It has been clear from the beginning that Republicans had no intention of cooperating with the current administration. They have made it clear that they will do everything in their power to prevent the Obama administration, and therefore the nation, from succeeding.

    It's a terrible shame that our leaders have become so self-centered, self-important, and self-destructive that they will sacrifice the country for their political power.

    February 14, 2010 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  14. SNAPPA

    These republicans must think Americans are pretty stupid well maybe we are with these tea baggers. Obama has done nothing but reach out to them as well as the dems in comgress and all they got for their troubles is talk like this. The talking points for the republicans is "don't help" period. They have said time and time again that this president must fail. Never mind that the country needs them to come together at a time like this all they can do is whine, I for one am sick of the Republicans and their whining.

    February 14, 2010 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  15. John D

    Once again Harry Reid is up to his same old smelly Democratic back door partisan tricks. Then he'll blame it on Republicans for not working with Democrats. This is exactly why the Republicans are correct in their stance. Reid needs to go away and quickly. He is nothing but SLIMEY!

    February 14, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  16. B

    This guy is one of the many Republican reasons that it is not working!

    These people are the - first to admit – that they want Obama to fail.Then they can take over again and finish the job they started in their last eight years..

    The party of Mass obstruction...

    February 14, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  17. Tony in Maine

    Of course Kyl and Co. are not interested. Gridlock is to their political advantage. Even though they are the party obstructing everything, they have Fox spinning the tale the other way and the other networks quaking at the thought of angering Aisles, so the gullible are swallowing it hook, line and sinker.

    Obviously the Democrats are determined to sink their own programs so they'll lose in 2010. It all makes sense now. Hey, who got voted off the island?

    February 14, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. johnrj08

    This man is either a mentally impaired moron or one of the most divisive politicians in the Congress. And that would be saying something. Kyl is one of the primary reasons that the Senate's health care reform bill was eviscerated in the Finance Committee. Who are the idiots who voted for this jerk?

    February 14, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. JODY

    Republicans screamed their heads off because they "weren't included inany decisions"......now, come to find out, they don't want to to be included. They just want to sit on their lovin butts and do nothing....something Rep[ublicans do best....nothing!!!!

    February 14, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  20. Bethie

    Re[ublicans just want to sit back and whine.

    February 14, 2010 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. Justin

    Republicans don't want to contribute to any accomplishements. They just want failure .

    February 14, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  22. Angel

    The President is trying to reach out to the republicans and all they say is no. So OF course they doubt it.....

    February 14, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. Kyle

    Republicasn work at failure and failure only.

    February 14, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  24. Rich

    Are all politicians brain dead? Obama says we want to work with you so long as we don't have to change our position. How does one parse that statement? It certainly doesn't sound like a request for bipartisanship to me. Hello George Orwell, it sounds like doublespeak at its finest.

    February 14, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  25. Jeremy

    The republicans need to be the party of HELL NO. The democrats proposals are bankrupting America and does not help to improve the general well being of our country

    February 14, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
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