McConnell Criticizes Obama’s Speech Plans, Others Wrangle For Political Position
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said President Obama's address on health care will not change many minds, Sen. Chuck Grassley fires back at the White House over comments and Sen. John Kerry says he'll take up Sen. Edward Kennedy's health reform hopes.
Roll Call: "McConnell (R-Ky.) signaled that Republicans will not fall into line behind President Barack Obama's plan for a health care bill even after he addresses a joint session of Congress next week" (Palmer, 9/2).
Politico: "McConnell said today that stripping the public option from the bill would be a 'step in the right direction' for the administration, but he said Republicans needed to see additional changes. 'There are other problems with the bill,' McConnell told reporters on a conference call this afternoon, pointing to concerns about tax hikes on small businesses and cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. 'There are other areas of concerns.'"
Meanwhile, Grassley, one of the three Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee negotiators' Gang of Six, is firing back at the White House over questions about his willingness to seek a bipartisan solution, ABC News reports: "'Attacks by political operatives in the White House undermine bipartisan efforts and drive senators away from the table,' said Grassley's spokesperson Jill Kozeny in an email today" (Wolf, 9/2).
Time: "But if Grassley has been clear about what he doesn't want to see in a bill, Democrats have had a harder time getting a fix on what he might accept. Take his often repeated criticism of the public option: Obama expected it to come up during a private meeting with Grassley last spring and was prepared to explore a compromise, according to a source who is familiar with what happened. Instead, Grassley failed to even mention it, leaving it to Obama to bring up the matter - and his top aides to wonder what Grassley's real agenda was" (Tumulty, 9/3).
The Associated Press/The Boston Globe reports that Kerry, D-Mass., says he will help take up one of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's signature issues: health reform. "Kerry quickly invoked Kennedy's memory and promised to push for the best health care reform package possible. 'That means taking on these battles in the way that Teddy would' ... Kerry, also a strong supporter of overhauling the health care system, has vowed to push through the measure in Kennedy's name. He said he would follow Kennedy's example of fighting hard for his principles and seeking political compromises that serve national interest" (Leblanc, 9/2).
Sen. Chris Dodd is considering leaving his position as Senate Banking Committee chairman to take over Sen. Edward Kennedy's Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee chairmanship. Roll Call reports that, according to a source, "Dodd is undecided, and he is discussing the situation with his closest advisers and colleagues. This source speculated that Dodd may wait until Tuesday when the Senate reconvenes to make any announcement" (Stanton, 9/2).
Finally, CNN reports on Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine and her potential to be a compromise broker. "President Obama and top aides have quietly stepped up talks with moderate Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine on a scaled-back health care bill, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations. The compromise plan would lack a government-run public health insurance option favored by Obama, but would leave the door open to adding that provision down the road under an idea proposed by Snowe, the sources said" (Henry and Bash, 9/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.