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Senate GOP Still Saying ‘No’

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) also said Reid doesn’t need to file cloture so often, but that he appears to think it’s easier than negotiating with the minority.

“I don’t think he has to do it on most of these matters, but if it’s easier for him to do that way, I can understand why he does it that way,” Kyl said. “So it’s not a matter of Republicans’ filibustering.”

But Democrats said whether it is just a handful of Republicans or the entire GOP Conference, the minority is making it much easier for Democrats to label Republicans the “party of no.” Still, Reid and other Democratic leaders have yet to recycle the Velcro chart they used last year to mark the number of times they said Republicans had attempted to filibuster legislation.

“It makes a difference having 59 votes,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), who led Senate Democrats last year to a seven-seat pickup. “Plus, Leader Reid has bent over backwards to allow Republicans to offer amendments on bills.”

Indeed, one senior Senate Democratic aide said having more Senate votes and the White House has changed the imperative for Democrats to constantly beat up on the minority.

“Last year, there was nothing we could do without a fair amount of Republican support. So it was the narrative,” the aide explained. “This year, we’re delivering on the promises that we made, despite Republican obstructionism. While that will continue to be part of the narrative, it’s not as dominant.”

It could become the narrative again, however, when the Senate takes up a massive restructuring of health care this summer. And Reid let it be known Wednesday that Republican delay tactics and what he sees as their lack of bipartisanship will not stop him from pushing a health care plan.

Reid even hinted that he might have to use a partisan path to enactment such as employing budget rules that would protect any health care bill from filibuster.

“In spite of the past, I remain optimistic that both Republicans and Democrats recognize how urgent this health care debate is,” Reid said on the floor.

But he warned, “As important as bipartisanship is, it is not as critical as helping the nearly 50 million Americans who now have nowhere to turn and the other 20 million who have bad insurance. ... In order for this bipartisan process to take root, Republicans must demonstrate a sincere interest in legislating. I hope they do so, because one way or another we’re going to get health care done.”

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