February 14th, 2010
05:24 PM ET
4 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. andy

    You Dems sound just like a nursey all the whinning and crying.YOU had a majority and did nothing,all you jerks know is to blame YOUR failures on someone else.Long Live The GOP.Now go cry,the GOP now controls and the people have spoken-remember Scott Brown and Mass.Suck it up morons.You spout off about wealth and the Republicans,are all Dems poor-maybe because of your stupidity and ignorance.See you November and good bye.

    February 14, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  2. BillG

    The party of No (meaning never) to Obama's attempts at getting this country back on track. The same folks that caused the problems are 100% opposed to helping try to fix them. What are the Republican solutions beside cutting taxes? They don't have any .......

    Anyone that wants to put these traitors back in charge again should have their heads examined.

    February 14, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  3. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    The GOP are grossly out-of-touch with greater populace of this country. Their base for the 2012 election will be firmly grounded in the bigots in all the trailer parks across America, and the so-called "informed" masses up North who can't come to grips with the idea that a Black man might have an intelligent thought. The talk here in Texas keeps carping on how they miss the intelligence of one "W" versus Obama, until one mentions to them that Obama is a law school graduate. Their response is always priceless "Well don't forget, "W;' went to Yale!" Hmmmmmm!!

    February 14, 2010 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. Mike in Texas

    Has anyone thinking of voting Republican found anything saying what there budget would be? Do you think they will balance a budget? You do realize to control spending they will have massive cuts to education, veterans and they would have to cut Social Security and Medicare. They will most likely have to raise the minimum retirement age to 70 because they won't raise taxes.

    The deficit should have been cut during Bush's term but the Repubs screwed the pooch. Now we have Democratic control and the Repubs are now so concerned with the budget. Why do you believe they will be able to control spending when they couldn't before? America quit being Charlie Brown while the Repubs are Lucy and pulling the football from you when you go to kick it.

    February 14, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  5. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    The Republicans in Washington are just another group of homegrown Taliban recruiting terrorism in the WH.

    February 14, 2010 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  6. GPC

    Doubt cast by a party who's strategy is to block all legislative activity for a year and hope the country contunues to suffer in near depression conditions. The GOP and their leaders are shameless.

    February 14, 2010 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  7. Money addiction

    Look at this:

    "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."

    All we are hearing from Republicans, after they have successfully sabotaged the "public option" with lies, threats and rumors, is "why can't he get anything passed?"

    Yet Jon Kyl is whining the Obama might be able to get something passed without their ability to block it. He is admitting they will block ANYTHING unless there are 60 votes to stop it. I thought all Obama needed was 51? Why is it that Republicans are making him get 60 to pass anything? The filibuster is supposed to be used rarely and yet they are doing it at every turn to stop all legislation. All so that they can paint Obama as a failure to make up for their own failure in Bush.

    This is petty, partisan politics that is as low as it can possibly get.

    February 14, 2010 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. Hugo

    The liberal blog machine zeros in... Please answer me which party has had a super majority for the last year? Please name a bill under legislative action in either house or senate that the minority party Republicans were capable of conducting a filibuster on during the last year? Why all the hate for either party trying to inject some common sense into legislation, it is supposed to be a negotiation to common ground to arbitrate the best rule of law for our Nation. This may not make sense to many of the posters but what may be best is not always what YOU may think it is. If it made sense, politicians and government would immediately take a 25% paycut, and the Obama Administration would come up with some ideas of reducing governmental bureaucracy for revitalizing our industries and manufacturing segments, otherwise we are dead ducks!

    February 14, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  9. Jim Rees

    There is no reason to agree to a bill you don't agree with.

    February 14, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. Liberalism is a Mental Disorder

    Larry states "GET OVER IT! The American people spoke when they voted President Obama into office. "....most people that voted him in did so based on his repeated Lies, Falsehoods and misinformation (such as I will not raise your taxes one dime if you make less than 250K – now everything is on the table, I will not hire lobbyist – hired dozens, he would not sign a bill with Pork – Signed numerous including the NONStimulus with 9000 earmarks, etc – the list goes on) and while they may have voted for him, they are regretting that vote as demonstrated by his 44% approval rating and even lower with independents!...

    February 14, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  11. Publius Novus

    Reupbs have no ideas. Period. What were the people of Massachusetts thinking?

    February 14, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    Kyl voted 100% against women's issues – BUT he voted for the John Birch Society over 80% of the time.

    He loves men, and hates blacks and women. (Wonder if he travels and goes to men's room with senator craig?)

    February 14, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  13. stokr

    Obama then: " We won the election, we'll do it our way."

    Repubs now: "We won Massachutes, twist in the wind."

    February 14, 2010 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  14. Reid is a disgrace

    Now we know what Obama meant by bipartisanship. Both sides meet and agreed on a jobs bill and then Harry Reid scuttles it in favor of his own personal bill. I am really looking forward to November so that the Voter Rebellion can continue what was started in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts

    February 14, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. chicago4obama

    It makes me sick to say this, but I am convinced this group of white males for the most part ,who make up the Republican Party want to see Obama become the first and last black president of this country.

    February 14, 2010 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  16. bill

    no the repubs dont want to meet discuss.anything.with president obama.all they know is no.well fair reporting on party of no.things would be different.president made them look like a bunch of fools last time.

    February 14, 2010 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  17. Joe

    How far back in American history do you have to go to find another political party so completely out of touch with reality as the republicans are today? Perhaps back to the mid 19th Century and the "Know Nothing" party? But even they were more honest about who they were and what they believed in.

    February 14, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  18. Dean

    The entire GOP should take the lead from Sarah Palin and just quit. they are worthless anyway.

    February 14, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  19. Anthony McMahon

    What we need to do as Americans is vote out each incumbent and stop electing Democrats and Republicans. They think they're in a perpetual election cycle and instead of getting things done stall everything in the name of us and what we allegedly want. Kyl is a jerk and a liar who is the last person that she be talking about bipartisanship. He's a joke. The people of AZ ought to vote him out to make a point.

    February 14, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. DonBeal

    I am another citizen who believes that the Republican strategy for the elections this fall and in 2012 is to continue to say, "No", to any and all proposals to improve the economy, health care, and everything else for that matter. The election of Scott Brown furthers that strategy. Despite the now 59 vote majority in the Senate, the Democrats have no chance to pass any meaningful legislation that would help the country. The Senate has succeeded through its own rules to overturn our long-standing acceptance in majority rule and replace it with minority rule. The Senate is now the major stumbling block to proper democratic functioning.

    And it is interesting that the Republicans object to a scaled-down proposal from $85 billion to $15 billion. You would think that with their recent conversion to fiscal restraint (not exhibited during the eight years of the Bush presidency), they would be in favor of a smaller effort by the federal government. But that clearly shows their present thinking process. First find out what President Obama and the Democrats put forward, then say, "No." It's very simple.

    February 14, 2010 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  21. Florence

    The senator is not about working to solve any problem with this administration. In the interview his words are "we believe" our approach is better. This is person who is close minded and only talking for the sake of talking. He is only deflecting blame from his party because Obama called their bluff about transparency, now they don't want to go. Can anyone take a guess? Because this was about defeating healthcare not about looking for people's best interest.

    February 14, 2010 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  22. Donkey Party

    For those of you knuckle-dragging Right-wing droolers out there, the Democrats have been excessively bi-partisan, and all the Right-wing contributed was "death panels", "gonna unplug grandma", and "massive gov't takeover of health care". All lies, and the only thing the Right had to contribute, and they and their clueless supporters don't think the Left was bi-partisan enough? Idiots!!!

    February 14, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  23. Sue, Vienna, VA

    I'm glad to see that most of people's comments favor bipartisanship. However, it's most disappointing to see that that the few negative comments that were made were nothing but regurgitation of the nasty rhetoric spewed by repugnant right-wing fossils! Does ANYONE on the right have an independent thought in their head or are they content to believe anything anyone in their party tells them?! I shudder to think that the likes of John Kyl, John McCain, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Dick Cheney, etc. etc. have taken away any sensible thought processes you might have had and turned you into a bunch of sheep. Positively scary!

    February 14, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  24. Rob in Detroit Mi.

    The Gop has no interest in fixing the economy they want to sit back and do nothing hopeing the public like always blame who is in power ,not whos causeing the trouble in this case its the GOP the American people both Republican,Democrats,&independants need to come together and throw out the Republicans, all the Republicans and a cfew Dems who are in the pocket of bi g Business.

    They dont care about any of us just their power ! why protest the president when he has devoted his life to the underdog? unless you are telling me those people at the anti Obama ralleys are rich.

    February 14, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  25. Jim from Reno

    To say that the GOP has no power is not accurate. Until the Dems decide to just ram everything through on reconciliation, the GOP has ALL the power just saying "NO." It is evident from the polls that this is working as the "low information voters" just don't get it. So, Dems start ramming. In the end you will be vindicated.

    February 14, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
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