Republicans Blast Senate Deal-Making; Contemplate Delays
Republicans continue to critique the deal-making process to win over Senate votes for the health care overhaul.
"Republicans on Monday slammed the provisions Democrats inserted in their far-reaching health-care overhaul bill at the last minute to win over individual senators," The Wall Street Journal reports. The Journal enumerates the various deals that have been targeted for Republican criticism. Democrats defended the provisions and said this was how lawmaking has always worked, including when Republicans controlled Congress. 'That's what legislation is all about -- it's the art of compromise,' said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.). 'It's no different than other pieces of legislation'" (Bendavid, Adamy and Johnson, 12/22).
Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, "vowed on Monday to defeat Democrats who backed the health care overhaul," CQPolitics reports. "I intend to have my foot on the throat of the Democrats on this issue and hold them accountable and their votes and their messaging, if you will, to the American people, which has been somewhat disingenuous up to now," Steele said "in a fiery conference call with reporters. He was accompanied by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Texas Republican who now heads up FreedomWorks, a group leading the 'Tea Party' protest movement, which opposes health care overhaul and government spending" (Norman, 12/21).
Meanwhile, the "Senate Republican plan to delay passage of healthcare overhaul legislation as long as possible showed some cracks today, but Republican leaders were holding firm to their pledge to drag out a final vote until sometime late Christmas Eve," Congress Daily reports. "With a final vote expected after 7 pm Christmas Eve, aides and Republican senators said some Republicans, recognizing the healthcare bill will pass, are considering taking up Majority Leader Reid's offer to yield back time and head home for Christmas a day or so earlier. But after a discussion of that issue Monday ... at a lengthy caucus meeting, Republican senators emerged pledging to draw out debate, though several said the matter remains under discussion" (Friedman and Edney, 12/21).
The Washington Post reports that Republicans are showing "little indication that they were ready to relent in a standoff that could push passage of the legislation to the latter part of Christmas Eve."
"Lacking the votes to block the bill, Republicans heaped scorn on the many concessions made to wavering Democrats in the quest to advance the package. GOP critics warned that support for the effort could mean the demise in 2010 of vulnerable incumbents, including Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.)" (Murray, 12/22).
Roll Call: "The GOP vowed to keep fighting to kill the Democratic bill and reset the debate around better legislation. But even moderate GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), who supported the Finance Committee's version of the health care package and had been courted by President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders, sounded resigned to opposing the final Senate bill as well as the forthcoming House-Senate conference report" (Drucker, 12/21).