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. WDM

    Of course they wouldn't support any bipartisan efforts. They feel that by doing nothing but filibustering everything, and blocking anything Obama tries to do is a winning strategy for November. If they can point to the last two years and say Obama didn't accomplish the things he promised to do, it will win them votes. Even if the reason that those things where not done was the republicans and their filibuster.

    February 14, 2010 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. D.D.

    They need to be careful too. This is a deadend. Pitiful. Everyone needs to write in their hands: "We the people for the people."

    February 14, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. Tim

    Perhaps he is right, and that the White House will not offer a full bipartisanship approach, but it seems to me that that if someone extends an olive branch, you at least reach out a hand and accept it. It's time for politicians to realize that holding out against someone who is trying to work with you is harmful to those they represent and that such action ought to be rewarded with a reassignment of their job to someone who is actually willing to work with those of differing opinions.

    February 14, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Non

    obama, pelosi and reid sure did'nt worry about bipartisanship when they had a filibuster proof congress. Nor did they worry about what the American people wanted.This new attitude did'nt come around till Scott Brown was elected.When pelosi got over being shell shocked, she was all for bipartisanship.No spreading it around.

    February 14, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  5. Jeff

    Enough already it is time for dems to just "STAND UP TOGETHER OR MAJORITY AND JUST GET WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE DONE STOP PLACATING TO THESE RW BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 14, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. Chris

    Of course the GOP are not terribly interested in bipartisanship. They're completely opposed to bipartisanship – as they are completely opposed to pretty much everything, except their narrow agenda. Several prominient Republicans have repeatedely said that "bipartisanship is when the Democrats do what we tell them to do." The idea of putting aside their differences and working together for good of the country is a totally alien concept to the GOP. For the Right, bipartisanship is nothing more than a talking point. That after continously obstructing, oppossing aand obfuscating they can turn around and accuse the Left of not being bipartisan.

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

    If I had to choose between bipartisanship and getting stuff done, I'd pick getting stuff done.
    Bipartisanship is a fine idea, but if the Republicans are not interested in working with Democrats then the Dems should just go around the Republicans.
    The Republicans would not hesitate to do the same.

    February 14, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. MJ

    I believe the "Jobs Bill" is a joke. It costs far more than $5,000 to hire an employee for a year. Take into account: Salary, Benefits, Taxes. Most businesses do not want to "take out loans". They want to be in the position that they do not have to resort to this. Small & big business need to sell there goods or services. What is the ultimate price business and taxpayers will have to pay for this Bill? Higher Taxes. Care to bet?

    February 14, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. jules sand-perkins

    On the jobs bill and on health care, I agree with Senator Kyl completely. I also agree with him that some of the President's initiatives at "bipartisanship" are designed to display theatrically his assertion that Republicans will not cooperate in a bipartisan manner.
    The President's actions about bipartisanship are like a child's who, having been told that he may not have three pounds of Godiva chocolates before dinner, cries, "wah, wah, then gimme one pound! Just a pound! If you don't, you're not cooperating! We have to make a compromise! I get a pound of chocolate before dinner–OK, a Hershey bar then! No fair! No fair!"

    February 14, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. JR

    Oh, look, the Republican is saying no before the question is even asked, how very GOP of him.

    February 14, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. marty

    It's sad to see a major political party become so dictatorial, so very manipulative and so negative. The Republicans are not just the party of NO, but when they put themselves above the needs of this once great country, they appear to be extremely insensitive and unpatriotic....and that alone can become very dangerous. When, in both houses of Congress, not one Republican vote has been cast in concert with the Democrats, that demonstrates a void of independent thought. Something is very wrong with this rigid, stilted homogeneous group.

    February 14, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. Rob Stumpf

    It's all politics with this administration. Is this really news to anyone at this point?

    February 14, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  13. JR

    Kyl sure used a lot of words to say, "la la la la la I'm not listening I'm not listening".

    February 14, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. KO

    Kyl and the rest of the GOP know absolutely nothing about bipartisanship...they are the "just say no" party.

    February 14, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Brian from CA

    Oh my god....Kyl is one politician that just needs to retire. This is such an angry guy who opposes ANYTHING and everything for no reason but to have something to be pissed off at. I lived in AZ for 10 years and this guy has been irritating for a very long time. Kyl, among other long-term senators are poster children for term limits. With legislators like him in the senate they just continue to represent the old guard that needs to be replaced with younger faces who are tired of all the bickering and who will recognize the value of substantive debate and compromise.

    Mr. Kyle if you're not going to be part of the solutions, you're part of the problems. If you're going to continually act like a child because you're not consistently getting your way, it's time for you to step aside for the benefit of the rest of us who want to see SOMETHING get done.

    February 14, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. Robert

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

    And there is the problem folks. It is not Obama who has already caved in to most Republican demands and who has bent over to work with them. It is the Republicans being 'not terribly interested' in working with him.

    For political expediency.

    They act like they won the last presidential election. Bipartisanship to them means doing everything they way they demand, no exceptions.

    Let's hope the American people, and specifically independents, remember this come November. If the Republicans lose seats in the next election we may just get them over this arrogant game they are playing and get some things done.

    February 14, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. Lorna

    Jon Kly is so deceitful and dishonest himself he can't imagine anyone making a sincere gesture toward anything. What a poisonous bunch of discredited humans....and I am including a bunch of Democrats in there too. Term limits...term limits....term limits.......

    February 14, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. Larry

    blah...blah...blah... I know a way of saving some of the taxpayers money. Suspend the pay and benefits of congressman who choose to do nothing but run their mouth to any media outlet about how bad President Obama and hsi administartion is doing but yet they do not bring any ideas to the table other than being disruptive and obstructing and and everything regardless any benefit it may have for the Anmerican people. GET OVER IT! The American people spoke when they voted President Obama into office. What is interesting is the fact that these people claim that our countries constitution and values are at stake. It appears to me that you are the ones putting it at stake by not accepting the fact that President Obama was elected through our democratic system and since things did not go your way you would rather whine and cry like children instead of getting over yourselves and working together for the benefit of the American people who also put you in office.

    February 14, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. Short Memories

    Republicans are disgusting! Won't support a jobs bill, well gee they have a job so I guess they don't have to. Must be nice –

    February 14, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. Perusing-through


    President Obama has tried every conceivable method for getting Republican-GOP off the bench and to join the policy making process. And GOP's primary response and strategy has been to:
    (1.) – Obstruct
    (2.) – Say 'NO'
    (3.) – Distort the facts
    (4.) – Heckle from the sidelines
    (5.) – Tell boldface lies knowing their supporters don't care to know the truth.

    February 14, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. Jenn, Philadelphia

    And this is the problem, democrats say one thing and do another. They want bipartisanship but sabotage it by pulling a bipartisan bill, talking about reconciliation and executive orders. You have the majority, do what you want and stop pretending. Your problem is, when it all fails, you will own it solely and you don't want that to happen.

    February 14, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  22. I am Newt Limebaugh

    Never have I ever seen a party like the GOP act like they are in power and have absolutely NO power and they decide to stall every thing that the Government is trying to do. This guy Kyl is just like the rest of the pasty faced neo cons by having his own head up his own ass.....he can't see or hear a thing.

    When I seea guy like this "Grandstanding at every turn" it males me and many Americans sick to our stomach.

    Have people alreadt forgotten the Tom Dealy tactics of strongarming all the politicians........please spare us your hypocrisy Kyl

    February 14, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. Bananarepublic

    Republican cannot covern if they're keep on saying no to all issues and for the will of the American people. What a party?

    February 14, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  24. c spurgeon

    Kyle and other Republicans do not intend to work with this President and it more than a partisan issue. It is a racial issue , age issue to boot. They do not care what happens to this country as long as they can pad their wallets. It is both Republicans and
    Democrats and term limits are the answer. Let the crooks go earn a living with no big benes or insurance etc. Make it six years and thats how long they get their benes and medical, It counts toward SS and medicare like tghe rest of the country.

    February 14, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  25. Donald

    Kyl conveniently failed to mention that the bill proposed and killed by Reid contained a whole lot of pork projects not even related to job creation. A watershed moment has arrived and it began 2 weeks ago when President Obama called out the House GOP leadership. Folks, the GOP has zero ideas and they know it, that's why they don't want to meet with President Obama. Time has come for the GOP to put up or shut the hell up and let our President do what they're incapable of – LEADING.

    If they are people out there who wants to vote for this riff raff in the fall I say, so be it, but remember whose lap this fell on in the first place, the Republicans.

    February 14, 2010 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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