Today’s Republican talking point of the day is that the historic health reform bill passed today represents the first major piece of social legislation to be passed without a single vote from across the aisle.
Well that may be true. But it’s not a commentary on this bill. It’s a commentary on the Republican Party, whose leaders made a determination that they were going to put party over progress. That's never happened before when the nation took on big challenges.
President Obama made it clear from the very beginning of this process that he wanted to work with members of both parties to craft the best bill possible. He even kicked off his efforts by inviting stakeholders from across the political spectrum to the White House to share ideas.
Contrary to what one Republican Senator said today, Democrats did not “do the HELP Committee bill completely Democrat” without “even ask[ing] one Republican opinion.” In fact, they accepted more than 150 Republican amendments.
In putting together the Finance Committee bill, Senator Baucus held months of bipartisan discussions. The Committee held a day-long bipartisan health care summit, convened three bipartisan roundtables, and even issued three bipartisan policy papers laying out the options from which the Committee chose to craft its bill.
Once the bill hit the Senate floor, Republicans passed up the chance to offer constructive amendments. Instead they chose to obstruct votes and offer six separate motions to essentially start from scratch.
The sad truth is that Congressional Republican leaders decided early on that their best move was to “delay, define, and derail” reform – not to find common ground on a bill both parties could support. They made clear their hopes that health insurance reform would be President Obama’s “Waterloo” and that it would “break him” politically.
In the process, they lost sight of the fact that this was never about President Obama – it was about the families struggling to keep up with skyrocketing premiums; the small businesses forced to choose covering employees and staying afloat; the 15,000 Americans who lost insurance every day this year. Today’s vote was a victory for them.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director