McConnell Hoping Democrats Find Religion on Health Bill

Posted January 12, 2010 at 10:58am

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday appeared to concede that there was little Republicans could do to block passage of health care reform, but he expressed hope that the legislation would collapse under the weight of its increasing unpopularity.

McConnell said during a Tuesday morning Capitol Hill news conference that final passage is not yet a done deal. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are hoping to send President Barack Obama a bill before the State of the Union. Reid, Pelosi and Obama are leading negotiations on the overhaul, with talks expected to kick off in earnest this week.

“We’re going to do everything we can to stop this bill,— McConnell said. “The polls continue to recede in support of this proposal. I have great hope that enough Democrats are going to wake up and say, ‘We should not thumb our noses at the American people and cram this down their throats no matter what they think.’ It’s an act of incredible arrogance.—

All 40 Senate Republicans opposed that chamber’s bill on Christmas Eve. All but one GOP Member voted against the House package in November.

The final legislation is subject to a filibuster. But as long as the Senate Democrats’ 60-vote coalition holds, Republicans are powerless to stop the legislation from becoming law.

“There are not a lot of tools left in the shed. It’s just a matter of if the administration can pull it off,— a senior Republican Senate aide said, adding: “We’re going to make sure [health care] is a topic of conversation when they come back.—

The RealClearPolitics average of polls measuring support for the Democrat’s health care reform package over the past month shows 51 percent of Americans against and 38.3 percent in favor.

Even as he acknowledged the political realities of the health care debate, McConnell did mention next Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts to fill the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D) seat, Republican state Sen. Scott Brown is within striking distance of state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D), according to some recent polls of that race.

“It’s interesting, and noteworthy, that in an election up in Massachusetts — arguably the bluest state in America — the hottest issue is the health care bill,— McConnell said. And, I’m told that the Republican candidate said in a debate [Monday] that he emphasized that he’d be the 41st vote to keep this monstrosity from foisted on the American people.—