White House: Key GOP Senator Has ‘Walked Away’ From Negotiations
The Obama administration struck back at Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi's Saturday remarks that proposed health reforms "will actually make our nation's finances sicker without saving you money," Bloomberg/The Washington Post reports. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs called the remarks "tremendously unfortunate but in some ways illuminating."
Enzi is one of three Senate Republicans currently working to negotiate a deal in the Finance Committee. He's clearly "turned over his cards on bipartisanship and decided that it's time to walk away from the table," Gibbs said. Gibbs also accused Republicans of "repeating talking points" they know are not accurate (9/1).
It is possible that President Obama and congressional Democrats could go it alone, without any Republican support. But, as Jennifer Duffy, an editor of the Cook Political Report, tells Bloomberg in a separate story, "Both procedurally and politically, this may be a no-win." A technique that would allow Senate Democrats to pass a bill with only 50 votes, rather than the filibuster-proof 60, carries with it risks and restrictions.
For one thing, laws passed through the so-called reconciliation process must be budget neutral or save money within five years, a requirement that may mean Democrats would have to scale back their proposals. Several prominent senators believe reconciliation "does not work very well," or is inappropriate when used for broad legislation rather than specific budget measures. In addition, several senators, including Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark, may not support a final bill, leaving Democrats short (Jensen, 9/1).
Related KHN story: Democrats Strategy To Avoid Filibuster Carries Serious RisksThis is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.