February 24th, 2010
06:43 PM ET
12 years ago

Partisan bickering continues as bipartisan summit nears

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/24/art.dodd.file.gi.jpg caption="Sen. Chris Dodd is one senator adding his voice to the debate over the White House health care summit, a popular topic Wednesday in Washington."]Washington (CNN) - The day before the White House's bipartisan summit on health care reform, there didn't appear to be much mood for compromise on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Chris Dodd, a key author of the Senate health care bill, told reporters flatly Wednesday that if Republicans continue to demand that Democrats scrap their health care proposals and start over, "then there's nothing to talk about."

"If you expect me to start all over on this, there's really not much point in this, 'cause we're not going to start over," Dodd said.

But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell argued that's exactly what Republicans want.

"Unless they're willing to do that, I think it's nearly impossible to imagine a scenario under which we can reach agreement because we don't think we ought to pass a 27-hundred page bill that seeks to restructure one-sixth of our economy," McConnell said.

Dodd said Democrats and Republicans could find some common ground in some areas, such as the Republican push to allow insurers to sell insurance across state lines. Dodd called the GOP proposal "a legitimate issue" but added that Democrats already have a version of that proposal in their legislation.

House and Senate Democrats participating in Thursday's summit met in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office to game out their approach for the meeting.

Republicans held their own strategy session in McConnell's office later Wednesday afternoon.

Pelosi told reporters she had "great optimism" about the meeting. But she declined to give any specifics about how Democrats will proceed on health care reform. She also sidestepped questions about Democrats' plans to use a controversial parliamentary shortcut to bypass GOP opposition and pass a health care bill.

"We're talking about substance. I'm going there to talk about substance. We agree that we should have universal access to coverage, with affordability for the middle class and accountability for the insurance companies. That to me is what the subject is about tomorrow," Pelosi said.

But Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, admitted that Democrats did talk Wednesday morning about using "reconciliation" to move health care legislation. He said Democrats anticipate the issue will come up at Thursday's summit.

Reconciliation is a process - limited to budget-related bills - that bypasses the Senate rule on 60 votes being needed to end debate. By using reconciliation, only a majority vote would be needed to advance a bill.

Dodd said Democrats don't want to go that route, but added, "we've been forced to consider that as an option, and I believe you must consider it. The issue of health insurance and health reform is so important that we can't afford to get lost in the process debate around here over how you get it done."

McConnell warned the political consequences would be severe if Democrats moved forward without GOP support.

Pointing to the backlash over the special deal in the Senate bill for Nebraska's Democratic senator, Ben Nelson, to cover his state's Medicaid costs, McConnell said, "If they think the American people are mad at them now they haven't seen anything yet."

The number two House Republican, Rep Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, released a memo to reporters slamming Democrats for discussing the idea of using reconciliation. On Democratic strategy, Cantor said, "Their endgame is clear: Demand support for their approach, or go it alone using reconciliation. This partisan tactic - once soundly rejected by Democrats - now appears to be a foregone conclusion. That's a sad statement for bipartisanship and for America."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this week pointed out that reconciliation has been used more than 20 times since 1981, by both parties.

Conrad said he expected the president to make opening remarks at the summit, followed by opening statements from Republican and Democratic leaders from the House and Senate. He also said Democrats plan to divide up who will take the lead in the four subject areas the White House outlined - controlling costs, insurance reforms, reducing the deficit, and expanding coverage.

Conrad said he has been asked to take the lead on debt and deficit issues.

Filed under: Health care
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Papasan in AZ

    The Government ( GOP & DEM ) will never bail out Main Street USA or create Universal Health Care. Here is the good part, we can start believing in ourselves, move forward with our lives, and tell Washington to drop dead, they need us more than we need them. There is a lot of power in relinquishing Washington's control over our lives and future. The Great Depression was the same way, Americans finally gave up on \" Help is on the way \" and created their own help called \" Self Reliance \". That's how Mom, Dad, Grand Pa and Grand Ma did it, and that's how we have to do it. Lets stop the whining and crying, get out there and make it happen, we are Americans, we can do anything!

    Good Bye, Good Luck, and don't forget to write!

    Papasan in AZ

    February 24, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    "If you expect me to start all over on this, there's really not much point in this, 'cause we're not going to start over," Dodd said.

    That's right – there's a huge, stinking elephant standing in the room and everyone knows it!

    The Republicans DO NOT want any health care reform – because they care more about money than people.

    Their tried-and-failed economic, foreign and military policies of the last 30 years have proven this beyond the shadow of a doubt!

    The Republicans' call to "start over" is just yet another stall tactic employed by a group of people who have absolutely no ideas – and they're scared to death that come Thursday, the whole world will see it.

    February 24, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  3. Middle Westerner

    My Fellow Americans..
    Unless we vote out EVERY one of these do nothings we are certainly doomed as a country.
    I've never seen such incompetance and stupity in my entire life.


    February 24, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    The Republicans' call to "start over" is just yet another stall tactic employed by a group of people who have absolutely no ideas – and they're scared to death that come Thursday, the whole world will see it.

    February 24, 2010 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Starting over is absolutely ridiculous!
    80% of the original proposal was OK with Republicans a year ago- start with those and work on the othe 20% any other way they try and do this means they- Republicans – are refusing to comprimise. Period.

    February 24, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  6. The Lady

    Good for you. I agree with you 100 percent.

    February 24, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  7. valwayne

    Dodd and the Democrats clearly have no intention of really negotiating, and they are telling everybody right up front. What does Dodd have to lose. He's already decided he can't win reelection for all the corrupt vote, including the AIG Executive Bonus, guarantees. Why end his career worrying about what the American people want? He never has in the past!!!

    February 24, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  8. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Republicans are just making excuses about excuses because they have no plans for Americans.

    February 24, 2010 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  9. Michael from Ventura

    Really? The Grand Obstructionist Party not in the mood for bipartisianship? Whodda thunk it! The Dems already HAVE compromised way too much as far as I'm concerned. Act like the party in power Dems!! The people wanted change and the republiCANTS still can't accept they lost the election of 2008. They continue to put party FIRST- THAT should have been their theme in 2008..Country First never entered their minds!

    February 24, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  10. James Bradberry

    Now proven once and for all that the Republicans are just the party of "no." No expectation that insurance companies will stop obscene profits at the expense of patients. No hope for the millions who cannot find affordable insurance. No plan to reign in healthcare costs that are spiraling out of control for consumers and the government. No way that the public will not eventually catch on that they don't care about us (just the big spending lobbyists).

    February 24, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  11. Andy

    I hope the Dems do bypass the GOP and pass this ,that would insure the American people will end the Dems/Obama.The people have said they do not want this bill as written.,they want it refined.PLEASE dems , pass this so I can get rid of you and Obama.

    February 24, 2010 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  12. PaulC

    Of course the Republicans want to start over. They will start over every year until the end of time.
    I would like to start over and put every Senator and Representative into a HMO health plan run by Blue Cross.
    I would like to require voter approval for every perk and pay raise the Congress votes for themselves.

    February 24, 2010 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  13. mike

    What a bunch of babies..GET DOWN TO WORK AND GET IT DONE FOR GOD'S SAKE this is what we elected you for stop acting like spoiled children!!!!!!!!!!!!1111

    February 24, 2010 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  14. m smith

    what congress wants is for the health care bill to go down in flames. They don't care about the American people. They keep saying we don't want this bill/ WE haven't seen a bill yet . Let us decide.YOu work for us . The party of no needs to get their stuff togeather. Let's see how they look tomorrow. That's what they are reALLY AFRAID OF. Comoning across as the sour pussed dumbos that they are.

    February 24, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  15. Citizens are 2nd class

    OK pass a bill for the regular people us,and you Dodd/congress/obama/unions get a upper class healthcare plan.I want what you,Dodd and the royalty have.

    February 24, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  16. Sgt. Flagg T. McLiberty, Superpatriot

    Hey GOPers,

    Bush passed his tax cuts with only 50 Senate votes and then Cheney cast vote #51.

    Yeah, the same tax cuts that led to the financial mess we're in. But somehow that was ok huh? Hypocrites.

    February 24, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  17. ronalde

    the repugs had a whole year to add or change the health care bill now that the president has called them out,they come up with a new stragety start over,well cris dodd is right forget it plus there are some of the repugs ideas in this bill..the senate is stalling 290 bills,that has been passed by the house and stalled in the senate.

    February 24, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  18. Roger

    Evidently Obama and most Democrats still don't get it. A prepondence of Americans do not support the Democratic bill and come November those who insist that the will of the American public is non-existent will pay dearly. It is a sad state when a Representative Government completely ignores the will of those whom they are suppose to represent. The only thing that is transparent about Obama and his cohorts is that their secret agenda is Socialism. You, Obama, accepted office on the basis to protect and administer our Constitution and now you are ignoring it as if it doesn't exist. You protect terroist wth our Constitutional rights and the will of the American people are completely ignored. You have contradicted yourself so many times that your credibility is a disgrace.

    February 24, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  19. Jake

    Go ahead moron Dems and bypass the GOP.People do not want this bill as it is written,must be refined.Pass this and you will be gone quicker than expected along with your leader Obama.

    February 24, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  20. Candi

    By pass the GOP and you dems/Obama/and Dodd can all go home.This is what the polls say is not wanted as is.

    February 24, 2010 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  21. ib

    Typical democrat; they are determined to ram a bill down our throats that poll after poll has shown the voters don't want. Vote them out in Nov. and get some people that want what the people want not what congress wants.

    February 24, 2010 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  22. Four and The Door

    "If you expect me to start all over on this, there's really not much point in this, 'cause we're not going to start over," Dodd said.
    That's right, Senator Dodd! The Democrats spent a lot of time crafting a bill loaded with compromises for hold-out Senators and generous consideration for their Special Interest Groups. And the Republicans want them to start all over?!?! Actually, most Americans want them to start all over.

    February 24, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  23. proud mother and sister of a soldier

    This tells me the repubs will be the obstructionist even though, with the dems, it is "my way or the highway". It is a two party broken system but lookout dems come election time....forcing your bill upon the public will not bode well. Goodbye Obama!

    February 24, 2010 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  24. CT from DC

    Its quite interesting that after decades of discussing this issue the republican party still want to "start over" WIthin the last 3 decades Health Care costs for the country has grown exponentially. Something needs to be done now.. stop talking about it or talking about starting over.

    1. Over 175 admendments from the REPUBLICANS are in the bill.
    2. WIthin the last 3 decades Health Care costs for the country has grown exponentially.
    3. Reconciliation has been used over 200 times during Republicans majority rule ( many within Bush era). Where did that get us?

    4 Stop saying the american people are not for health care reform when most people DO want reform. Those that have a negative view of the bill are either ill-informed, dont have enough knownledge about the health care situation and/or are tired of the bickering.

    Democrats.. keep going.. get it done!

    February 24, 2010 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  25. LoveThyNeighbor

    OH, woo hoo..."If I don't get my way, I'm going to go sit in the corner and pout! Just leave me alone until you agree with me." – Your Republican" Such losers! Work FOR the American people or you'll BE GONE come next election! WE'VE HAD ENOUGH!!! All this trivial CRAP [bipartisan] stuff is REALLY getting OLD! REAL FAST! Sam

    February 24, 2010 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
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