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. chuck

    Everyone knows the Republicans hope that our economy is destroyed and that terrorists strike again with a massive death rate, all on Obama's watch. They will do whatever they can to make these things happen.

    They know that is the only way that the collective amnesia on what they actually accomplished with the previous administrations 8 year tenure can actually take hold. They desperately need that nationwide amnesia to regain power.

    February 14, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. Bob

    Here we go PARTY FIRST . the republican party is so upstanding.

    February 14, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. librarian

    What else is new ? The party of NO. Anti-patriotic and abject.

    February 14, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  4. Brenda

    Based on all national polls..............

    The majority in the country would rather have nothing be done regarding health care---than to have Obamacare shoved down their throats.

    The majority in the country wants the 2000+ page health care disaster thrown away---and start from scratch with a transparent, bipartisan bill.

    February 14, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. Perusing-through


    Republicans are back-pedaling and looking for excuses not to work with President Obama in a truly bipartisan manner. The GOP prefers to sit on the sideline and heckle, obstruct, distort, bamboozle, spin, lie, and just say 'NO'.

    February 14, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Annie, Atlanta

    Who cares what Kyl thinks? And he wants to point his finger at the white house regarding bipartisanship? This from a member of the Party of NO? Republicans are against health care. One of my senators told me he had to protect the profits of insurance companies. He didn't respond when I asked him, "what about us, your constituents?" Nothing. They are against Social Security. They are against Medicare. What more do we need to know?

    Before Social Security and Medicare the elderly died in abject poverty. Is that what we want? Seriously? Are we really going to put these people back in power and let them take every cent we've paid into these programs for years and privatize it with the gamblers on Wall Street (who, by the way, the GOP does not want to rein in)? Is that what we want?

    February 14, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  7. hobart

    Well, duh! Of course Republicans cast doubt on the White House's attempts at bipartisanship. Republicans, aka the Party of No, have made it abundantly clear that they will support absolutely nothing that the White House or the Democrats in Congress propose. To Republicans, bipartisanship is either Democrats cave and give us 100% of what we want, or we'll lie, hold up appointments, filibuster, and do anything and everything to prevent anything from getting done. And while we're at it, we'll take credit for all those stimulus funds our districts received that we voted against.

    The White House is just making it clear that the American People can see these loathsome obstructionists for what they are.

    Why do Republicans hate America?

    February 14, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  8. valwayne

    Come on! Obama has made it perfectly clear that he doesn't have any intention of really compromising on anything. They are playing a media came becauses they know the mainstream media will play along. They want to get the Republicans to sign onto some of the corruption so they can say ....see they are doing it to.......or when the Republicans refuse to support the Lousiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, and the entire bloated corrupt healthcare bill they can say see they are obstructionist! Republicans need to stay firm and just say NO to the corruption. Let Obama and the Democrats play the same old politics.....Republicans need to show the public they've learned their lesson.

    February 14, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. Me

    Bipartisanship = You agree with us whether you like it or not, or we call you obstructionists.

    Is there any way we can throw EVERYONE out and start over?

    February 14, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  10. Tim

    I'm not sure Senator Kyl understands how bipartisanship works when you are the minority party in Congress. You don't get to introduce your bills. The majority party introduces the bill, and agrees to various amendments and changes suggested by the minority. What Kyl wants is to have the control over the process.

    February 14, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. An 8 year old ELEPHANT dung heap, does not transform into compost in just 1 year!

    "Bi-partisanship is over-rated" is a direct quote from whom, Mr. Kyl?

    Yep, that is right, Michael Steele, the titular head of the RNC

    You can cast doubts about President Obama's pledge for bi-partisanship, but the CERTAINTY of the fact is that the Reds are NOT interested in bi-partisanship and proudly state in both action and deed..

    Remember that whole Party of NO "thingy" the Rabid Nazi Committee was renamed after stating "we want President Obama to fail" and apparently you cons want even at the expense of this great country!

    February 14, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  12. R.B.

    Why is this news? The GOP Party of NO doesn't want ANY bills to pass while Obama is president. Everybody knows that.

    February 14, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. repubabubba

    These two parties have no intention of working with each other. It will be time to clean house in November.

    February 14, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. Ray in Nashville

    The GOP has to be careful here. They will never harm themselves with their base by saying no to President Obama, however, they will not win a national election solely with the support of that base. If the true independent voters in the country, who are leaning back towards the right again, come to see Republicans has being obstructionists, they very well could swing back to Obama in 2010/12.

    February 14, 2010 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  15. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    That bill was full of Republican pork and deserved to be pulled. Had it passed the GOP would have immediately started screaming about the pork in the bill, conveniently ignoring their own duplicity. Are there any true decent Republicans left? I'm a Dem but miss people like John Warner, Alan Simpson, Lincoln Chafee, Chuck Hagel and Bob Dole. They could stand their ground but do what was right for America in the end. Ever since Gingrich it's been nothing but obstruct, obfuscate and lie.

    February 14, 2010 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  16. andy

    Democrats are the party of NO NO jobs NO economic improvement NO accountability NO plan NO hope NO change The Republicans do not have to work with you morons anymore because come November you are gone.The people have spoken.Suck it up idiots.

    February 14, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. Obama is playing games

    The GOP is smart not to fall victim to the games being played by Pbama.

    February 14, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. gary davis Harbor Oregon

    what A dip stick ..its not the white house and the democrats you idiot ( Kyle) it you and the republicans I would be ashamed of my self if I did what the republicans keep doing ...LIES and threats , and the list goes on and on .. the great party of NO .. america is tired of you people and just because a few of you got voted in ,, you can also be recalled and voted out . so both parties need to get with it and support the man we voted for

    MR. Obama he has kept this country out of the toilet.. and with out the help of you idiots . time for the senate and the congress to get on the ball . and help the american people and become responsible for the lies and rampent CEO rip off going on in business . need to put all of them in jail along with Dicky Cheney 🙂

    February 14, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. Mitch

    Is Kyl referring to the fact that the jobs bill was loaded with pork? Bipartisan spending sprees that would have made the public ANGRY???

    Why are the GOP so anti-American? Why do they want to destroy America? And WHY DO THEY NOT REALIZE THEY LOST THE LAST ELECTION???

    If they do nothing on either of these bills, they will be ripped by the Democrats for months over the fact they did NOTHING for the people of this country who struggle.

    February 14, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  20. proud mother and sister of a soldier

    Oh please dems.....how can you not understand what this president has done to divide this country? Do you not think there is any problem with his past lack of transperancy? The meetings behind closed doors with his dem cronies and never granting a meeting with the repubs to look at hteir proposals? This meeting is an effort to sve himself and fool the ignorant after the dem losses in NJ, Va and Mass. It is transparent even if he isn't. You know darn well he is going to trap those repubs he invited with a plan already formalized by the dems. Are you all really so blind or is it all about the handouts you want? Conservatisim isn't dead....it is prascticed every day by us who are fiscally responsible!

    February 14, 2010 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. mavcal

    And here is the irony of Obama's contrivances. Why is it that all of a sudden there are these uncapped sky high insurance increases coming now from these health insurers? Because they are opportunists exploiting the lull and impasse in Obama's grandiose health care "reform" – not knowing how this will eventually affect their bottom line – so they are pre-empting legislation that may put restrictions on the amounts they can hike insurance. Obama's magical thinking has backfired and who is left holding the bag – us.

    February 14, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  22. What are they afraid of?

    Know your enemy America. People who are AFRAID to debate the issues. And will make, any and every excuse to get out of it. These people put party over country.

    What are Republicans so afraid of? They might lose an argument? Win or Lose America wins when we know which way is best. Unfortunately they continue to obstruct because they are more concerned about their seats than the issues that are important for this nation.

    February 14, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  23. Mike in Texas

    Ask Kyl why seven Republican Senators pulled their support for a pay as you go plan once Obama supported it and they originally co sponsored the bill.

    Ask Kyl why Republicans brought now health care reform legislation other than a bloated prescription medicare plan to the table during their six years of control under Bush.

    The Republican hope is the economy doesn't improve so they can gain back power and give massive tax cuts to the rich, cut spending on education and veterans and ship more jobs overseas and watch our insurance rates rise and rise.

    It will be a broken record of the past decade. A sequel we don't need.

    February 14, 2010 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  24. FactCheck

    The GOP wants no part of a televised debate because Obama will show them up as he did 3 weeks ago. Since the GOP have no ideas, no plans, no policies and the only agenda of obstruction, there not much they have to say on camera.

    February 14, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  25. shoegazer

    He looks like Elmer Fudd....probably about the same IQ.

    February 14, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
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