Reid & McConnell Square Off On Health Care, Filibusters & Debt Ceiling

Jan 6, 2011 5:20pm

ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe reports:  House Republicans can repeal the health care bill if they want, but they’re just wasting their time because it’s not going anywhere in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid emphasized today. “The Republicans have to understand that the health care bill is not going to be repealed,” Reid said at a press conference today after a caucus meeting. “Are we saying the health care bill is perfect? Of course not,” he said. “We’re willing to work in any way – constructive in nature – to improve the health care delivery system for our country. But repealing healthcare? They should get a new lease on life and talk about something else.”  When a reporter asked Reid if he will bring the repeal to the Senate floor if and when it passes the House next week, Reid replied bluntly, “No,” and walked away. Later the Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell said he would push for the repeal to be brought up on the Senate floor. Another area where Reid and McConnell have already found themselves at odds is on the Democrats’ push for filibuster reform. “We don’t think the Senate rules are broken. What we think is going on here is an effort to in effect try to nullify the rules of the election,” McConnell said. “We saw the lengths they went to last year to jam through a partisan agenda with no votes to spare. Now their reaction to having had a bad election is to change the rules.” For his part, Reid said he will continue negotiations with McConnell on the reform issue, but whether they prove fruitful or not, Democrats are prepared to act. “We hope that the Republicans will see the light of day and are willing to work with us,” Reid said. “If not we’ll have to do something on our own.” In addition, another likely area of conflict is the push to raise the federal debt ceiling before it hits its current limit of $14.3 trillion later this spring. “I view it as an opportunity,” McConnell said, “an opportunity for both sides to come together and say to the American people, ‘We understand that this spending and this debt is out of control and we’re going to do something significant about it.’ And use that moment to underscore that we’re going to bring this country’s fiscal house in order.”  

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