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Kyl Concedes: Republicans Won't Support Health Reform

August 18, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

<img src =“” align=“right” width=“313” height="250">Sen. Jon Kyl [R, AZ] is the Minority Whip, the second most powerful Republican in the Senate who is responsible for enforcing the party’s position on votes. Today, on a conference call with reporters, he said that Senate Republicans would not vote for a health care bill that looks anything like what has been in the works so far, including one that would allow for non-profit health care co-ops to be set up. Sam Stein reports from the call:

A key member of Republican leadership in the Senate declared on Tuesday that a cooperative approach to health insurance was merely a “Trojan horse” for a government-run system.

In a conference call with reporters, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said that while some progressives view the co-op proposal as an unacceptably watered-down alternative to a public insurance option, Republicans think it’s still too similar. He indicated that both he and the party would oppose them.

“On the co-op… as Democrats have said, it doesn’t matter what you call it, they want it to accomplish something that Republicans are opposed to,” Kyl told reporters. “That is the step towards government-run health care in the country. The president himself said you can imagine a cooperative meeting that definition of a public option.”

“It is [a public plan] by another name. It is a Trojan horse. And therefore no, I don’t believe Republicans will be inclined to support a bill,” he said. […]

“I think it is safe to say that there are a huge number of big issues that people have and these are a couple of the most prominent,” he said. “But start with the cost of it. There is no way Republicans are going to support a trillion-dollar-plus bill. And when the chairman of the Finance Committee in the Senate said, ‘ah, great success, we think we got it under a trillion dollars,’ you did not hear a big round of applause from Republicans.”

Yesterday, Sen. Chuck Grassley [R, IA], the Republican most intimately involved in the health care negotiations, said that he would not vote for a bill that he negotiated – one that he thought was a good bill – unless a significant number of Republicans were also supporting it. Essentially, this means that moderates in the Senate Finance Committee – the so-called “Gang of Six” – isn’t working on a bill to meet the challenges of passing the full Senate. It’s just about getting it out of the Finance Committee. But this bill they pass out of the committee isn’t going to pass out of the Senate.

So, what’s the point? Well, with Sen. Edward Kennedy [D, MA] sick and people like Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] potentially unwilling to support a public option, Democrats need to find support from at least a couple moderate Republicans. But Kyl’s statements today are a clear sign that the Finance Committee negotiations are not the way to go about winning that support. This should be a sign for the Democrats that it’s time to start looking at negotiating with Republicans who want to support health care reform, and to stop trying to bring a big part of the Republican Caucus on board cuz that just ain’t gonna happen.

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