Pelosi’s Relationship With Obama Frayed, Sen. Kyl and Wyden See Hope For Bipartisanship
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's relationship with President Barack Obama is becoming strained over roadblocks Democrats are seeing on legislation and the treatment some Democrats view as "cavalier" from the White House, Politico reports. "For months, the California lawmaker has been pushing Obama hard in private while praising him in public. But now she's being more open in her criticism, in part because she feels the White House was wrong - in the wake of the Democrats' loss in Massachusetts - to push the Senate health care bill on the House when she knew there was no way it would pass. Teams often have nasty locker rooms when they're behind at halftime, and it would be easy to chalk up all the unhappiness to frayed nerves after Democrats failed to deliver on their big promises in 2009. But White House and Capitol Hill sources say there are much bigger issues at play here: confusion and political differences." Adding to the confusion is counting votes in a constant political game: "Neither Pelosi nor the White House knows whether Democrats can muster the 218 votes they need to pass health care or any other controversial measure through the House, despite their 77-vote majority" (Allen and O'Connor, 2/12).
Politico's Live Pulse blog reports in a separate story that Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona "said Thursday that the debate over health care reform has fueled the perception of a partisan divide disproportionate from reality." Kyl said: "I think there's been a lot of emphasis because a couple of major high-profile issues like the health care debate suggest that members don't work together, when the reality is, on a lot of things, we do work together and we do get things done. But there are a few very high-profile things on which there are profound differences" (Shiner, 2/11).
In other politics news, Roll Call reports that the "grass-roots arm of the Democratic National Committee is stepping up its efforts to back lawmakers who support health care reform - and pile more pressure onto moderates still on the fence." Organizing For America received pledges from members of more than 1.5 million hours of work for candidates who support reform efforts, Roll Call reports (Bendery, 2/11).
The New York Times reports that Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who sponsored a bipartisan health reform bill with Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, "predicted on Thursday that Republicans and Democrats could find common ground at President Obama's bipartisan health care summit on Feb. 25." Wyden's bill has been cited as a hope for bipartisanship on health reform, and Wyden said he sees a few policy proposals as opportunities for bipartisanship. "'I have been talking to a number of Republicans and Democrats and the White House,' Mr. Wyden said, 'The Republicans in the Senate have said one of their top priorities is to promote what's called interstate shopping for health insurance.'" Wyden said, however, that he is skeptical of such a plan because it would require much greater consumer protections (Herszenhorn, 2/11).