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. Ted McKee

    The summit will accomplish nothing other than increasing hostile
    and partisan feelings between parties.
    If the democrats use reconciliation, there's no hope for any
    bipartisanship on any other issues in the future.
    It's a sad sad situation for America.

    February 24, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  2. steve

    It is truly disingenuous for Republicans to fake an interest in health care reform. If they were in charge of congress and the White House now, there would be no movement at all on health care. There wasn't an inch of movement from eight years of Reagan, four years of H.W. Bush, or eight years of W. To feign an interest now is simply a smoke and mirror act. W. Bush's only utterance of health care was prompted by a question from a reporter and his answer for the uninsured was to visit an emergency room because they can't deny you. That does nothing for preventative medicinal care. Not that he cared.

    February 24, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  3. MsDp

    I know that's right! A lot of hard work and long hours went into the crafting of the bill and a lot of progress has been made. I have watch every episode and the bill should NOT be scraped. Carry on DEM's; Carry on with or without the lazy GOPs!!!!!

    February 24, 2010 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  4. Former Republican, now an Independent

    The republicans like McConnell want to start over to make it look like they actually have some ideas. If they had some, why haven't they come out with them by now (almost 1 year later).

    February 24, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  5. Obama the Liar

    One question....WHEN does this corrupt liberal Democrap finally go to jail??????

    February 24, 2010 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  6. Fitz in Texas

    Chris Dodd....why is the taxpayer still paying this crook?

    February 24, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  7. Anthony

    Bickering CHILDREN...

    All of these POLITICIANS need to go.. lets start over with ALL of these No-sayers and Do-NOTHINGS!

    If I recall, YOU are the ones with EXCELLENT health care services, provided by tax payer dollars...

    February 24, 2010 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  8. Doug Hughes

    45 million Americans without health insurance – and rising

    45,000 Americans die each year for the lack of health insurance (Harvard Study)

    45% – the increase in premiums Blue Crosss wants for individual policies (the average they asked for is 25%)


    The Democrats would address these issues.

    The GOP proposes Tort Reform, which the CBO says would help to the tune of one half of one percent of the cost of health care.

    And the GOP proposes to allow unrestricted interstate commerce – a 'race to the bottom' as insurace companies market junk policies that the destination states would not be able to regulate. (But it would br great for profits of ins companies)

    February 24, 2010 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  9. m smith

    hey I really like the all rep doctor fact check group. Now that will be a fair and honest take on the bill. Give us all a break . It amazes me that the repos think every one eles is a dumb as they are. At least when it is televised they can't come up with their lies.

    February 24, 2010 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  10. Ridgeway

    Is it November 2010 yet? Please mid-term elections! Don't be late!

    February 24, 2010 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Dems please don't fall for these cheap tricks. The Repubs are still playing games, and acting as if they are the ones calling the shots. They lost the election, the House, and the Senate. Let them dance to your music.

    February 24, 2010 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  12. A keen observer

    Republicans want to kill healthcare reform. They want to protect the insurance companies who have bought all of them. Why doesn't the Congressional ethics committees investigate all Republican Congressmen for taking bribes and indict the guilty ones?

    February 24, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  13. dave from chicago

    Congress is not doing their job.
    In the downward spiral of American politics, this country is getting sold down the river and sucked dry like a dying body being eaten alive by vultures and maggots.

    I have a suggestion: Act like what you're doing is a matter of life and death, because it is. You should all be so ashamed. The founding fathers must be turning in their graves at what America has become.

    The people should be ashamed as well. All the democrat/republican bantering that starts out so flippant but turns so vile makes me want to vomit. You can feel the vile hatred in the continuing debacle that is our 2 party system. What should happen is the people should stop bickering and band together to demand an overhaul of government. Quit listening to the hatemongers and snide know-it-alls on radio and TV and do something constructive instead of regurgitating talking head spew while being led astray like sheep to the slaughter.

    We don't need to worry about Al Qaeda – we are terrorizing ourselves. They're probably chuckling in their guano-covered caves.

    February 24, 2010 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  14. WoW

    "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.

    Senator Dodd, this is why you have been asked by your own party not to run for another senate term.

    Scrap this horrible bill you have. It's going to lessen the quantity and quality of care for us. We don't want that.

    February 24, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  15. worriedmom

    Dodd who cares what you think! You are a short timer and with all the corruption you have been getting away with, it would be best to just go out silently. Just take your sweetheart deal and leave us alone!

    February 24, 2010 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  16. Albo58

    Dodd knows that his worth has shrank to virtually nothing, but he's still trying to be a loyal Dimwit by defending this piece of garbage legislation! Of course I seem to forget, why isn't Dodd running for re-election? Oh yeah, his constituents find him a piece of garbage, too!

    February 24, 2010 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  17. annie against biased news

    Someone should tell 'doddie waitress sandwich' dodd to give all the money back that he took from fannie/freddie and apply it to the national debt or go to jail for theft.

    February 24, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  18. Bob in NC

    Why did the Dems do nothing when they had the majority.They blow so much smoke.They had the votes and did NOTHING,but want to blow smoke and blame the GOP.Dems can not fool all the people all the time.

    February 24, 2010 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  19. gary

    Republicans can be part of the solution or continue to be part of the problem. The American people are looking for solutions.

    February 24, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  20. Scott, Tucson

    Why isn't this guy under criminal investigation for his role in the Fannie mae/Freddie mac debacle and his sweetheart deals with Countrywide?

    February 24, 2010 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  21. John

    Obama/Dems want to cram their socialist agenda down America's throat and at least the GOP stops their self centered non sense which is also spending billions we do not have.

    February 24, 2010 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  22. Craig H Easton, PA

    McConnell? What political consequences can you add to complete obstruction? You filibuster every bill and block most every nomination even when you turn around and vote in favor on the final vote. What the hell is left? You are basically acting like very spoiled and immature brats. Grow up and act your age for once.

    February 24, 2010 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  23. Ancient Texan

    With the attitude that Dodd and Obama have, it's their usual attempt at bipartisanism, "come on and compromise, ;do it my way". I hope the GOP actually does become the party of NO on this piece of garbage. Somebody has to stand up to this agenda of insane spending and say no! Government control will not lower the cost of healthcare, but accelerate it.

    February 24, 2010 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  24. abe

    Mr. McConnell is full of hot air. The only thing he knows is spreading fear and warning the Democrats they will pay a huge price if they pass a health care bill without there support. He has been in politics for too long and should use his expertise to be a leader for bipartisan solution and not a road block. That is why we should have term limits so w have fresh minds and politicians that are with the times and the ever changing world. He is out of touch and behind times. The American people want a health care bill passed, but the Republicans are so against the president and his party from succeeding. Well if Mr. McConnell gets sick he goes to the best hospital for treatment, but he fails to understand the plight of the 40 million Americans that do not have insurance. Shame on him to be in politics to be politician but not be a politician for the people. We should work for the people of this great country and not only for your constituents, because this country belongs to all of us. God Bless our country.

    February 24, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  25. JJ

    Why do we continue to elect ignorant individuals who have a silver spoon in their mouth?

    February 24, 2010 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
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