In a closed-door meeting before the last vote on the children’s health care bill, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer appealed for the support of about 30 wavering Republican lawmakers. What he got instead was a tongue-lashing, participants said.
The GOP lawmakers, all of whom had expressed interest in a bipartisan deal on the SCHIP legislation, were furious that the Democratic leader from Maryland had not reached out to them in a more serious way early on. They also criticized him and Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois for failing to stop his allies outside Congress from running attack ads in their districts, while they were discussing a bipartisan deal.
The result was a predictable one for this bitterly divided Congress. The House vote for a second SCHIP bill was a healthy majority, but not the two-thirds needed to override another veto vowed by President Bush. Only one Republican switched his vote — to oppose the measure.
Democrats accused Republicans of hurting kids. Republicans howled about a heavy-handed, uncompromising Democratic majority. And another chance at bipartisan consensus slipped away.
“They spent $1.5 million through their various shill outreach groups attacking me and a handful of my colleagues,” Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.) said before the Hoyer meeting, “but they did not spend five minutes to approach me to ask for my vote.”
This us-against-them mentality has been an ongoing storyline of the new Democratic-controlled Congress. On the big items — Iraq, health care and spending — party leaders have shunned compromise.
Democrats are under tremendous pressure from liberal activists to take a hard-line approach against everything Bush. Republicans face similar pressure from their own base to stick with the president and prove they are serious about curtailing spending, even if it means less cash for a popular state-run health care program for children not covered by Medicaid.
Bush has only inflamed those tensions. He has threatened to veto Democratic legislation 46 times this year, according to data compiled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). House Democrats have circulated a tally that puts the number at 35.
Of course Bush has threatened to veto some of the stuff coming out of Congress.
I agree that the Republicans have grown way to accustomed to big spending. That is the reason they are no longer in control of Congress. That being said the tax cuts have really helped the economy. If they were to cut spending it is hard to tell how good the economy would be.
The Democrats have shown no interest in the bi-partisanship they talked about in the run-up to the last elections. All we have had are investigations and insane legislation from them.