GOP: We Owe It to Public to Block Bill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on "Face the Nation," Sunday, march 21, 2010, spoke about what he and Republicans would do if HR 4872 reached the Senate.
Chris Usher/CBS

If the House of Representatives passes HR 4872 Reconciliation Act of 2010 and its corrections today, both go to the Senate for consideration. At that point, Republicans will have an opportunity to add amendments to the legislation and, as some critics say, drag out the process of getting health care reform passed.

"It's not a question of dragging [the process] out," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told "Face the Nation" anchor Bob Schieffer this morning. "It's a question of making sure the American people know what's in [the bill]."

The reconciliation process being used for Sunday's health care vote is common, said McConnell, though he hastened to mention that when it's used in a partisan fashion, the party who uses it often loses its majority in the upcoming election.

"In '93, we had narrowly partisan use of reconciliation for the biggest tax increase in history at that time. And the next year my party took the House and Senate," he said. "In 2005 we used it for a deficit reduction package. It was narrowly passed on a partisan basis; we lost the Senate the next year."

McConnell wouldn't elaborate on what exactly the GOP will do if the health care bill comes to the Senate, but he said Republicans had plans.

"We will have a series of amendments on the substance of the bill that will highlight the massive Medicare cuts, the massive tax increases, and other deficiencies that we think are the reason the American people are against this bill," he said. "Then of course there are special rules that apply to one of these so-called reconciliation bills that will be tested in the Senate.

McConnell highlighted what he called a series of special deals in the legislation that would be a tough sell, including tax increases and $100 million in Medicaid for Tennessee.

"The Democrats in the House and Senate are trying to convince their members to basically ignore their own constituents and do something that's highly unpopular even though the public opinion is pretty darned clear that Americans don't want this," added McConnell.

There were also no predictions from McConnell as to whether the Democrats could pass the bill in the House - or if Republicans could stop it in the Senate.

But when asked about political motives - about health reform becoming Presiident Obama's signature issue, and how the GOP was uniformly opposing it - McConnell said, "Look, Bob, this is not about the president. It's not about the Republicans. It's about the nation's health care. We have a significant difference of opinion about the direction in which to go."

He added, "We owe it to the American people to do the very best we can to keep this bill from passing so that we can start over and get it right."

More from Face the Nation:

Do Dems Have the Votes for Health Care?
Dick Durbin: Senate Ready for Health Care Reconciliation

More Coverage of the Health Care Reform Debate:

House Begins Historic Health Care Debate
The Hunt for Health Care Votes: Democrats to Watch
Obama to House: Health Care Reform is in Your Hands Special Report: Health Care
CBS Sunday Morning: Obama's Bill of Health
Rep.: Protesters Yelled Racial Slurs
Schedule for House Health Care Vote
House Dems Abandon "Slaughter Solution" for Health Bill
Obama Has Given 54 Speeches on Health Care
Obama Deploys Personal Presidential Touch
Dem Health Care Bill Pegged at $940B Over 10 Years

Details of the Bill:

What's in Health Care Bill? Take a Dose
Health Care Special Deals: What's Left In?
Dems Include Student Aid Reform Package in Bill
Health Care Bill Extends Tax to Investments
Read the Text (PDF): Complete Senate Bill | Reconciliation Measure