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. John

    Repubicans hated Democrats so bad that they got their ass whiped in 2008 election,The next thing they did is to PREVENT President Obama and his parties from passing this important health care bill to all 30 million uninsured Voters.

    February 28, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. CHIPS

    Ram Dems Ram, Ram Dems Ram and we will Ram the Dems in to office in Nov. 2010.

    February 28, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    Posters here complain that the health care bill was "slapped together".

    Have you guys been asleep for the last year? The bill, which includes all but 40 of the Republicans' 210 suggestions, was put together over several months (it took so long, in part, because of all the foot-draggin by the Republicans).

    You GOP lackeys should try actually studying the facts of the case instead of just parroting what you hear on Fox and Limbaugh.

    February 28, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. connie rigolo

    The Party Of NO is afraid of speaking for the truth because the health care providers put tons of money into the Rebublicans pockets.
    They are so intelligent that they have Fox News to smarten up a wanna be President who is not capleable to run our country. Two years of learning up will not make one a President. DUH.

    February 28, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    GOP has no interest whatsoever in the success of health care reform unless it is a purely Republican health care bill. Any other success would be political suicide otherwise. So.... stall, stall, stall. The longer it takes, the worse it looks for real reform. It's a game that started with Rove and continues. It's all about political advantage at all costs. What could be more obvious? This has nothing to do with what's good for America and everything to do with what's good for GOP votes in November. Sick!

    February 28, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  6. karen

    He keeps saying the American people oppose this Bill. But if you put the public option back in there is overwheming support for it according to polls.

    February 28, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  7. DS

    Health care reform is crucial to reducing the high unemployment rate. I am a life-long progressive Democrat and a small business owner. We would hire full-time employees with health care benefits if we could afford them. Instead, we are hiring multiple part-time employees. It is wrong and I don't feel good about it but I cannot bankrupt the company with 37% health insurance premium increases every year.

    It is a national shame that the Republicans in Congress are blocking every reasonable attempt to get to affordable, morally required health insurance for all Americans. it is a national shame that the Democrats in Congress are afraid of their own shadows. Whomever on the Hill has some courage, PLEASE, pass health care reform as part of addressing the high unemployment rate. Do it this week!

    February 28, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. evman

    No support from Repubs is not hews, if they DID support ANYTHING,...now THAT would be news !!! McConnel, another slimy arrogant politician.

    February 28, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. Jim Bob

    McConnell needs to Follow Jon McCain to the unemployment line. We cannot accept the idiocraty of these students of political practrice to remain in a position of authority or deceision. They lie and mis-represent "How American's Feel about healthcare" every day and I am sick of listening to them lie. American's overwhelmingly voted the Republicans out. They have failed us for years. They are failing us now. The bad part is they think,or say they think,they are doing what is best? These bought and paid for politians are selling our country out to the corporations, so fast you can't keep up with the plant closings and businesses leaving.... Ask Whirlpool, why are they leaving and going to Mexico, could it be the Huge market of New home Construction there?
    Hopefully,the bill will pass and so will the Republican's.

    February 28, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  10. anne

    It is so shocking that McConnell and his pack continue to sweep the dire needs of the public under the carpet for political gain. It is so disgusting to see him continue to spout talking points which are all lies. There is no "government takeover of healthcare". Quite the opposite, we don't even have a public option on the table! The saddest part of it all is that the republican citizens that I personally know all believe every word of this deception. They believe everything Fox News has to offer, and even recite to me the phrase, "Fair and Balanced News". I guess the biggest lesson to be learned is that the PR machine is the most important aspect of politics. Whoever gets their message out the strongest persuades.

    February 28, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    Another GOP talking point is that the American people don't want this bill.

    That's just not true, regardless of how many times Republicans and their lackeys repeat this lie.

    Another complaint is that the bill is long. We're a country of 350 million people, and health care accounts for about 16% of our economy and is a very diverse industry. What'd you think – it could be handled in just a couple pages?

    Besides, if the bill had been short, the Republicans would be whining, "There's not enough detail here! How do we know how this will be implemented? We can't sign onto this until we know exactly what we're going to get!"

    The problem: The Republicans will always find something to complain about because their stated goal is to kill health care reform.
    The solution: Do what the majority of Americans want and what President Obama was elected to do – pass health care reform NOW!

    GOP = Party Before Country

    February 28, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. hotchimera

    Wow!!! that really surprised me!

    February 28, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    GOP masters of deception. Manipulating public opinion by telling everyone "what America wants." Appealing to poles to support their partisan views. The truth: it's a compromise bill trying to incorporate views from all sides in a time when America is not in a compromising frame of mind. The people who support this bill are centrists, the people who don't are on the left and right..

    February 28, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. terry,va.

    @ 8 year old elephant, etc.......your post was amusing. Brothers keeper, blah, blah, blah. I worked since I was 14. I paid my way every step of the way. Yes, by God's grace and hard work I was able to provide a living for my family. The problem no one on these post recognize is that even if a person makes $150,000 a year they really don't have extra money to spend if you want to pass on a better life to your family than you have. I know first hand. If you put a couple of sons through college and then assist with medical school, you have nothing left after giving to a thieving government that just wastes money. I am my brothers keeper (family) and others that I see that needs help. I am not my brothers keeper for a corrupt wasteful government that gives to the sorry.

    February 28, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  15. Texas Jack

    No INDEPENDENT is going to support it either.

    February 28, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    "Jim" makes a great point about Republicans not caring about public opinion during the Bush/Cheney years. In fact, when the Republicans were in power, all they cared about was retaining and expanding that power, regardless of the consequences to our country.

    And I very clearly recall all the noise Republicans used to make about how it emboldened our enemies to criticize President Bush during wartime – and last time I looked, we were still at war, but now suddenly it's OK to criticize President Obama?

    The GOP is so full of it – and they think we're too stupid to notice.

    How any average American could belong to that party is beyond me. I mean really, how many times do you have to run your car into that wall to figure out that’s why you’re a bloody mess?

    February 28, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  17. Karl

    GOP masters of deception. Manipulating public opinion by telling everyone what America wants. They appeal to poles that show dissatisfaction on the left and right about a bill that is a centrist, compromise bill. It also shows the frustration of America over the bickering in congress. It's not about the public supporting the GOP. The polls are clear on that too.

    February 28, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    This leader is a liar with a straight face. He is not representing the people. It is about money for the insurance companies.

    February 28, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  19. Joe

    The party of "NO" is so devoted to sabotaging Obama that even if the president suddenly suggested tax cuts for the rich, they'd be against it.

    February 28, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  20. Jilli

    Wow, surprising that there will be no republican support.

    The republicans have done an impressive job sticking to their Frank Luntz supplied talking points. It's just a shame that it's so transparently clear that those talking points are just that – they're not facts, they're not even based in fact. They are also not a plan or solutions – they're just empty talking points.

    The democrats are going to pass a bill, and it's a MAJOR accomplishment with enormous benefits for the majority of the country – and given time to implement it fully, the public opinion will turn – much as it's done in the states that provide near statewide coverage, and much like it did for Medicare. People like it.

    I can smell the republicans flop sweat. A bill is going to pass and they'll be on the wrong side of history and public opinion...again.

    February 28, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. Greed and Obstruction Party

    Fitz In Texas February 28th, 2010 11:56 am ET

    Being an Independent I say good move GOP.

    Coming from someone living in the state with the highest percentage
    of uninsured citizens in the nation. 8th in the nation for poverty level, and one of the highest levels of high school drop out rate. Heck yeah!

    February 28, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    Look to see which group from which he gets his campaign money! Millions from the medical groups. Now you can see why he supports NO health care! Duh!

    February 28, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. robert diogenes

    Republican are complaining that the Obrama administration is trying to take over Healthcare. Instead they should welcoming this development. The gov't is the only organization with the capability to handle healthcare.

    State regulation, private insurance co's etc have had many years to fulfill our healthcare needs. They have failed. 30 to 40 million people are uninsured. Cost are out of control and rising rapidly. Some are worried that Healthcare will soon take over the gov' t.

    What is needed too cut costs is a internal analysis to examine better methods such how to pay doctors and health technicians, cut down hospital incurred infections and readmissions, use generic drugs where possible etc.

    Secondly external measures such as mandatory health insurance with gov't help if necessary so that everyone contributes to healthcare. For those not covered by company or other institutions a public option that will furnish insurance at the lowest possible cost. Private insurance and exchanges have failed to provide low cost insurance. Even better a single payer plan that experts say would save about $40 billion yearly.

    Lastly Healthcare should be housed in its own public agency with an independent Board of Directors. Unless we take these steps we will never have good healthcare for all. And we will never in the foreseeable future balance the Federal budget and reduce the federal deficit..

    February 28, 2010 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    His words sound almost cult-like. I have felt for the past several years that all Republicans awake each moring and have an envelope under their door that has the talking points for the week( government take overby Democrats), the word of the day ( socialism) and the Democrat to put down ( Pelosi) becuase if you listen to any of them speak at any given time, they all say the same thing for a news cycle- including their freinds in the press!
    This was never more apparent than this week when asked by MSNBC, one of the house members not in the meeting on Thursday, was asked a quesiton- he responded with anegative onthe affectiveness of the summit after just one hour. It ended up being said several times at the conclusion of the meeting by others. If they were truly thinking as individulas, how could they all the the same thing before AND after such an event?

    February 28, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  25. Sue

    The majority in the country agree with the Republicans. The majority in the country do NOT support any version of the Senate/House Bills.

    The majority in the country want them to throw away any current Bills--and start again with transparent and bipartisan methods and solutions.

    Go to the Real Clear Politics site to see the current polls. The Real Clear Politics site posts ALL polls--CNN, NY Times, Rasmussen, Gallup, etc-–and comes up with an average.

    Through these polls, you will see what the "majority" thinks about any version of Obama/Pelosi/Reid's health care plan.

    February 28, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
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