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. Mickey

    The domestic terrorist group called the Republican party will never sit at the same table due to the simple fact that they are purveyors of three things: FEAR, HATE, and BIGOTRY. Their "Purity Pledge" proves this.

    If it isn't their idea, they hope and pray for failure, even though it means pain and suffering for YOU.

    February 14, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  2. Tired

    I think "we the people" have gotten the message that the Republicans will not treat anything proposed by the new President in a bipartisan manner. They have decided that the election of 2008 did not take place and are going blithely on their way with their same old tired ideas of helping the already rich and fortunate in this country. So sorry we couldn't all have millionaries for fathers we'll try to do better next time. If we worked hard and have done well we are "elitist". If we fail it is because "those people only understand welfare". You can't win!

    February 14, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  3. Dale

    Put all these fruitcakes on prime time to negotiate these issues where they can't hide behind slanted commentary and leading questions so the public can decide. It looks like the Repubs are blinking they really don't want the bright spotlight do they?

    February 14, 2010 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  4. stokr

    librarian- It's not the party of no, it's the party of "HELL NO".
    No to a total lack of transparency, snubbing bipartisanship until Scott Brown's election, backroom deals, payoffs, record earmarks, lies, diving public opinion polls, astronomical debt, soaring unemployment, taxes on the middle class to be considered (flip/flop), taxes everywhere, 2k page bills no one reads, cap n trade stalled by record SNOW! You people are crazy. See ya in No-vem-ba.

    February 14, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  5. ProudLib

    The American people don't give a da*n about bi-partisanship - they care about results, and the sooner Congressional Dems realize they don't NEED Republican support for really anything — just like the '94-'06 Republican majority had no problem realizing — the faster they'll get the kinds of results that bring Independents and the majority of Dems together. And the Rethugs, never wanting to be seen as losers, will then jump in to claim their part of the victories.

    February 14, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  6. 71 YEAR OLD DISABLED VETERAN

    The only idea that a republican has is tax cuts for the wealthy. so that they can donate to the republican party so they can stay in office to give more tax cuts to the wealthy. it is a never ending circle. they have three agendas, lie, cheat, and steal. that is the republican party.

    February 14, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    From the sound of the interview, it sounds like the republicans will continie to be obstructionists.

    February 14, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  8. Charles W. Skinner

    Republicans are not the party of NO. We're the party of HELL NO and proud of it.

    I, for one, am glad to see the Republicans in the House and Senate finally getting the message from us voters out in the field, that we're fed up with the Democrat majority that has destroyed prosperity and wealth the country over the past 3 years through short-sighted, poorly thought out political gimmickry trying to appeal to the most Liberal members of their caucus.

    The public sees what has been done. Pelosi should make sure that the Speaker's office has been properly cleaned for a new resident come January of 2011, and Reid had better have his possessions all boxed up and ready to leave Washington by that time too..

    February 14, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  9. vijay

    This guy must be replaced next time. There is no place for these type of politicians in government.
    Hayward. CA

    February 14, 2010 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  10. W l Jones

    Coming soon remember me when I did not have a job Repubs.

    February 14, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  11. katiec

    President Obama has reached out a hand several times and all he has gotten in return is a fist.
    The republicans with their goals of destroy our president, party first, win at any cost and sacrificing the American people for big business furthers their continuation of destruction of these last eight years.
    Their obstruction, lack of concern for our future, fighting against anything and everything regardless of merits, benefits and needs, is as unpatriotic, unAmerican as one can get and these are politicians!!
    They have totally lost their way and are a disgrace to our political system and our country.

    February 14, 2010 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  12. BEATONWN BULLY

    jules sand-perkins
    Your rational is hillarious. Your support for Kyle's positions with no factual reasoning can be construred as "childish". Republicans believe that if Obama's accomplishes anything it will be a repudiation of thier philosophies. So they are willing to torpedo America, just to save face.
    Perkins, you crazy crazy gal you
    You should investigate pror to speaking.
    thank you, come again!

    February 14, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  13. ran

    Reconciliation, Reconciliation. It is time the Democrats use Reconciliation and just get things done. also the President need to use executive orders when ever he can to get things done that way.

    The Republicans have no intention of working with this President or Democrats. It is up to us the people to say enough is enough of the fear/hate/obstructionism/purity ideology of the Republicans and in NOV. 2010 we vote for either a true Democrat not a blue dog or true Independent not a Lieberman type.

    February 14, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  14. Gerry NH

    Obama has no intention of working with anyone that doesn't say yes to him. Obama is for grand standing and lying to the American. What a jerk.

    February 14, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  15. Dean in PA

    Sure would like to know why I have to post a second comment asking why my previous comment wasn't posted... nothing in it that was offensive or otherwise prone to censorship... What gives CNN?

    February 14, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  16. harold

    Republicans have nothing to offer the USA... just like they had nothing to offfer the USA during the Great Depression except soup lines.. Good soup however.. a little thin maybe..

    February 14, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  17. GOPBslapper

    The party of no (GOP) continues to destroy America in an effort to play political games. We saw and are living with the consequences of 8 years of a GOP machine. They won't be happy until they sell out every American to their Chinese masters.

    February 14, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  18. Alex

    The Democrats have, to their DIScredit, tried to bend over backwards for "bipartisanship", neutering most of their proposals, yet STILL not getting any GOP support. Then again, call me a cynic, but I say that's the desired effect. Anyone who thinks Obama is trying to institute a "socialist agenda" at this stage in the day is simply an idiot. When it comes to policy, our "progressive" president makes Nixon look like a Marxist.

    We have two right-wing, corporatist parties in Washington; the only difference is that the Democrats make slight appeals towards modernity and secularism, while the GOP retains a 15th century theocratic outlook.

    Kucinich/Sanders 2012

    February 14, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  19. John in WV

    Nuclear Option????

    February 14, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  20. Liberal4Obama

    More hypocrisy from the GOP... what did y'all expect ?

    February 14, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  21. polly

    Give me a break. Since when does it matter to the Democrats what the Republicans think? They've pretty much done whatever they wanted. Frankly, I think they have the right to be suspicious of all the money that's being spent, the way terrorists are being protected, and just what the motives are for these acts.

    February 14, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  22. AJ

    Is this surprising? Conservatives have always been obstructionist and Dems have always been to namby pamby to counter them. Its no wonder so many Dems get disgusted and leave the party. Its not the idealogy, its the dems total inability to get anything done!

    February 14, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  23. David from Wisconsin

    Let the people see how worthless the GOP is.

    February 14, 2010 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  24. polly

    At least Republicans care about our way of life and recognize the importance of defending it. I see them as being the more patriotic party. I think that both sides go to extremes at times in defining what they see the other party as representing, but the most important issue to me these days is in protecting our country. We already have more rights than other citizens in our world. Hell, even our criminal's rights are protected. Count your blessings.

    February 14, 2010 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  25. annie against biased news

    The Reupublicans need to stand strong now more so than at any other time in the history of our country. Not just the party of NO but the party of 'HELL NO"

    February 14, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
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