February 28th, 2010
11:38 AM ET
11 years ago

McConnell predicts no Senate GOP support for health care bill


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that last week's White House health care summit was a chance for his party "to display some of our brightest, most knowledgeable Republicans" on the subject of health care policy. (Photo Credit: CNN)

Washington (CNN) – Just days after a bipartisan, televised 7-hour White House summit on health care reform, the leading Republican in the Senate predicted that his entire caucus will act in lockstep and none will vote for the final provisions of health care reform legislation likely to be presented in the next month.

Sen. Mitch McConnell said twice Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union that he does not think a single Senate Republican will support the final legislation.

And, in the absence of any GOP support in the Senate, McConnell also predicted that congressional Democrats will proceed to use reconciliation, a Senate procedure reserved for budgetary matters which will allow Democrats to pass some aspects of their health care reform agenda without having to face a threatened Republican filibuster.

Asked about the GOP’s staunch refusal to play ball with President Obama and Capitol Hill Democrats after a year’s worth of legislative work on health care reform, the Senate Minority Leader defended the position of congressional Republicans.

“That would be great but that’s not enough to compensate for this massive government takeover of the U.S. health care system,” McConnell told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley after she asked whether Republicans could support a final bill that included meaningful medical malpractice reform, a top GOP priority. “It’s just simply not a symmetrical trade-off, if you will. That would be a step in the right direction but I don’t think that alone is going to get many of our votes.”

Even though McConnell appeared to concede that last week’s summit had not succeeded in breaking the policy logjam over health care, the Kentucky Republican praised the event as being positive overall for the GOP.

“We had a chance on Thursday to display some of our brightest, most knowledgeable Republicans. I thought it was actually very good for us because it certainly refuted the notion that Republicans are not interested in this subject, are not knowledgeable about it, and don’t have alternatives. And we laid out a number of different things that we think will make a lot more sense to go step-by-step to fix the cost problem [in health care].”

In an interview that aired earlier on State of the Union, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appeared to concede that there was no hope of Democrats and Republicans working together in a meaningful way to craft a final health care reform bill.

“Let me say this,” Pelosi told Crowley. “The bill can be bipartisan, even though the votes might not be bipartisan, because they [Republicans] have made their imprint on this.”

Pelosi also suggested that the two parties have fundamental ideological differences that might never be bridged.

“And so what we’ve had is the year of trying to strive for bipartisanship,” the California Democrat said, recounting the last year of wrangling on Capitol Hill, “as I say, over 100 Republican amendments in the bill. And the Republicans placed their own bill on the floor, here in the House, which insured 3 million. Our bill insures over 30 million. So we have a different value system here.”

After spending the better part of the last year focused on trying to pass a comprehensive health care reform bill, Democrats have now set the end of March as their new target date for getting a bill through Congress. President Obama will announce “the way forward" on the health care bill next week, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday.

In the meantime, it is an open secret in Washington that Democrats are preparing to use reconciliation to pass their bill with a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate. Democrats have been forced to consider use of the procedure because a upset loss last month in a Massachusetts special Senate election has left them one vote short of the 60 votes they need to block a Republican filibuster of a health care reform bill.

Follow Martina Stewart on Twitter: @MMStewartCNN

Filed under: GOP • Health care • Mitch McConnell • Senate • State of the Union
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Willa-PA

    Of course not, who would think otherwise? That's why Dems are such sissies in getting things done and to even bother with the right, who's wrong.

    February 28, 2010 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  2. Rasaq Seriki

    The issue of Health care bill is the fight between poor and rich i was fortunate to watch the whole debate it seem both Republican and Democrat are saying the same thing but different quotations. Both of them agree that reform is needed, while Democrat beieves to cover all being left out ( about 30m or more uninsured) but Republican agree to cover 1 million of those unfortunate(uninsured citizens) so someone can says that they have the same agender but different opinion. Above all life has no duplicate.

    February 28, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  3. teena

    The entire republican senate caucus voting No–what a surprise!
    Can they come up with anything that supports the working class of this country-now That would be a surprise.

    February 28, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  4. S Callahan

    I just wish common sense would prevail here....and with both parties...pass what you can agree on...then go forward and negotiate/compromise as needed on the other issues. The public is expecting this.

    February 28, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  5. JR

    McConnell said Sunday that last week's White House health care summit was a chance for his party "to display some of our brightest, most knowledgeable Republicans"

    Those fools were their "brightest"? Now that says a lot about the poor quality that the GOP attracts.

    February 28, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. jharvey

    "... last week's White House health care summit was a chance for his party "to display some of our brightest, most knowledgeable Republicans" on the subject of health care policy".

    Unfortunately, the Republicans weren't very effective. They had the chance and didn't take advantage of it. The smartest people in the room were Obama and McCain (yes, I know he's a Republican). Cantor and Boener wasted their time in front of the cameras whereas McCain exposed the Democrats' unscrupulous tactics to get votes. I was most impressed with Obama tho. He was authoritative, well-informed, and sometime heavy-handed when necessary in handling both sides on a high-stakes and high-intensity issue.

    For those people who don't agree with the way Obama handled the meeting, I ask one thing–what would you have done differently? And don't resort to some stupid answer like "announce my resignation."

    February 28, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  7. Mike in MN

    The simple truth is with all the polls showing that a majority of voters are opposed to Obamacare on top of Brown's win in Mass., there are just not enough Democrat votes to pass Obamacare.
    That is why Obama had to host the summit, to try and sway voter support. And that is why Pelosi is telling House Democrats to vote for health care reform, even if it costs them their jobs.
    If the Democrats had the votes, they would have passed the bill without having the summit.
    Without a majority of voters supporting the bill, there is not likely going to be enough Democrat votes anymore in the House to pass it.
    The American people know the bills stinks and know Congress can do better if they will listen to what the people want. Democrat leadership shows no desire to do that, so the Democrat leadership is not likely going to be able to get the votes they need to pass the bill.

    February 28, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. Mary in CT

    McConnell et al. are not trying to stop health care. They are not trying to keep the Democrats from "ramming" or "jamming" anything down American's throats. They are trying to keep the Democrats, especially the president, from achieving any legislative victory at all, so that in the mid-term elections they can point to how ineffective the Democrats have been, even with a super majority. Since McConnell cited public opinion, let me respond with Cheney's answer to the poll that showed Americans overwhelmingly did not want us in Iraq: So?

    February 28, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  9. jbakaregit

    Government take over of healthcare huh Mitch? If that's the case, get rid of your GOVERNMENT, TAX-PAYER FUNDED, PROVIDED HEALTHCARE. If you hate government so bad, don't be a part of the institution and just resign.

    The party of no will pay big time come November. Yet another House GOPer (that's 10% now that are retiring) is that is retiring knows which way the wind is blowing. The GOP is about to suffer another major loss continuing with the 2006 and 2008 election.

    If you want to say no to everything McConnell, get out of Washington and the American people will put someone in there who actually wants to serve the people that send them there.

    February 28, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  10. insightful

    This is the man that caused Jim Bunning to create a furor over the extension of unemployment insurance benefits. McConnell was active in running down Bunning's chances of reelection driving Bunning to retirement. So Senator Bunning retaliated by putting the party of "No" on a hot front burner when it comes to helping the American masses. McConnell must go and believe me, since I'm from Kentucky ...

    February 28, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. Jan Kydd

    I find it very interesting that Mr. McConnell, and the Republican Party seem to feel that the past 8 years that they were in control have nothing to do with the problems the contry has now. I sort of get the impression that they feel the country's problems started when the democrates took control. I believe that Mr. McConnell and the Republicans have missed or over looked a very important point. They say that the government should not be trusted, and any way is better than trusting the government. Maybe I'm confused, but I thought Mr. McConnell and the Republican party are the government (OK so we have some Democrates in the mix), they make the laws and see that the laws are carried out. This beggs to ask the question, is Mr. McConnell and the other Republicans telling all the voting public that they should not be trusted, and since the voters are dumber than a box of rocks, no one will figure out what they are saying? Since they have gone to great lengths to tell us, we can't hold them responsible later, after all they did tell us this for years?

    February 28, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  12. guest

    He is a big liar, using the ignorant Tea (or Drunk ) party followers to spread the lie. Most people in this country support Public option. Do not believe the fraud pools run by the health care companies.

    February 28, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. Gonzo in Houston

    Reconciliation has been used 22 times since its inception; 16 times by Republicans. It was used for welfare reform, W's second round of tax cuts, and even to establish COBRA. The GOP's opposition is pure politics and nothing to do with policy. I think reconciliation is basically unethical, but the constant use of the filibuster is just as bad.

    Besides, the Democrats can pass a much better bill with reconciliation because they won't have to appease their own extremes such as Lieberman and Nelson.

    The funny part is the gross hypocrisy of both parties when you compare their rhetoric today with that used when the GOP was in power and threatened to invoke reconciliation. American politics: laugh 'till you cry!

    February 28, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  14. Brad/San Diego

    The republicans are so hatefull because they are not in power, and the rich feel that they are being pick on by the middle class and poor. I want health care passed any way the demorcate can get it done, and don't mean next year,

    February 28, 2010 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. normajean

    MC CONNELL OUTLINES GOP PLAN. Seriously, just where have we heard that before. A year and a half later we are still hearing the same whining complaints and promises from the Repubs. They can't do it, haven't even given it a real try and certainly made no effort to be bi-partisan.I can't believe that any of you have faith in a party that talks and talks and does nothing else.When on camera , these men don't even look as if they care about their own constituents who need help desperately. This show needs to get on the road before it gets any worse.

    February 28, 2010 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. valwayne

    How could any person in good concious support this massive corrupt monstrosity that will cost trillions upon trillions of dollars?

    February 28, 2010 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
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