McConnell Writes Back to Obama: Abandon Reconciliation

Posted March 2, 2010 at 4:21pm

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday asked President Barack Obama to “encourage” Congressional Democrats to abandon the use of reconciliation rules to pass a final health care reform bill.

In a letter to the president — a response to a letter that Obama sent to Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders — McConnell praised Obama for acknowledging that the GOP offered some worthwhile proposals during last week’s bipartisan health care summit. But McConnell’s kind words stopped there.

“We were surprised and disappointed with your latest proposal to simply paper a few of these commonsense proposals over an unsalvageable bill. The American people are asking us for step-by-step reforms that target cost and expand access, not a couple of commonsense ideas layered over a rewrite of one-sixth of the economy,” McConnell wrote. “We respectfully encourage you to consider a new approach to reform.”

“We would also ask you to encourage Democrats in Congress to scrap something else; namely, their last-ditch plan to jam some version of their original bill through Congress and past the American people by way of the highly partisan process known as Reconciliation,” McConnell continued. “It should be clear by now how Americans feel about forcing massive policy changes through Congress with a back room deal. The fact that Democrats in Congress still seem intent on this approach suggests that they are completely out of step with the public.”

Obama is scheduled to outline his strategy for enacting health care reform legislation Wednesday. In his letter to Congressional leaders, Obama named four Republican ideas for health care reform that he’d consider incorporating into a final package but said he’d like them to be part of a comprehensive bill — a legislative approach that the GOP continues to reject.

“Americans are telling us quite plainly that in order to reform health care, we should scrap the bills they have already rejected and start over with commonsense, step-by-step reforms we can all agree on,” McConnell said.