Top Republicans told reporters today the Democrats are wrong to believe their approval ratings will go up once they pass health care, and warned against using reconciliation. They insisted that even though they used the tactic when they held power, the Democrats are abusing the process.
“Those who think they are putting the issue behind them are fundamentally wrong,” Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said today in a briefing with reporters on Capitol Hill. “I think their problems are just beginning,” Kyl said, citing polls showing the health care bill is unpopular.
At the briefing House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) pushed a new theme that Americans will vote Democrats out of office on a process argument, since polls show voters don’t like reconciliation. “This is such a perversion of the process and a manipulation of the rules, they do this at their peril,” Cantor said.Cantor predicted that if the Democrats don’t get their bill passed by the Easter break, members will see a repeated of the August town halls.
TPMDC asked the Republican leaders if they will advise the GOP to campaign on repealing the bill, an issue that’s been bubbling up in recent weeks. “We are not there yet because we are not ceding that this thing can’t be defeated and that we can’t start anew,” Cantor said.
Kyl said traditionally the presiding officer accepts any ruling of the parliamentarian on what is relevant to reconciliation measures, and said it would be totally unprecedented for the Democrats to override advice that elements aren’t germane.
“It’s just one of those things that you don’t do,” Kyl said.
The Republicans wrote a memo for reporters saying that the insurance regulatory authority and Social Security trust fund that President Obama wants added to the health care legislation through the reconciliation “fix” measure aren’t likely germane.
The GOP probably will raise points of order against those elements, but acknowledged that reconciliation limits debate in the Senate. Reporters asked Kyl and Cantor about the party’s own frequent use of reconciliation when they controlled Congress but they insisted they hadn’t used it in the same manner.
Kyl said the GOP has an earnest desire to work with Obama, but said ultimately the party’s goal is to make sure the health care reform package as it is written “never becomes law.”
“We should instead stop or stop and start over. That’s our goal,” he said.