Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday stressed his party "will not be intimidated" into passing healthcare reform under a tight deadline.
Rather, McConnell urged his Democratic counterparts to slow down the reform process and devote as much time to the healthcare debate as the chamber normally affords to other sweeping, landmark overhauls.
"Senate Republicans are going to insist that there be an actual bill, that there be a CBO score so we know what it costs, that it be available on the Internet for a minimum of 72 hours so the American people can react to it," the Republican leader told reporters after a policy luncheon.
"Senate Republicans are going to insist that this be a real Senate debate, a multi-week debate that gives everyone on both sides an opportunity to freely amend this measure and the American people an opportunity to fully understand what's in it," he added.
McConnell's attempts to slow down the debate arrive but a day after the Senate Finance
Committee approved Chairman Max Baucus' (D-Mont.) reform proposal -- with the help of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe's (Maine) vote.
As Senate Democrats prepare to combine that long-awaited proposal with the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's bill -- which initially received no GOP support -- Republicans are beginning their campaign against Democrats' negotiations. McConnell on Tuesday even criticized the process as one conducted entirely "behind closed doors," and he predicted the finished product would "never come before the Senate."
McConnell did not repeat that line on Wednesday, but he did warn Democrats that the GOP would not permit them to speed through the debate process. "The American people expect us to insist that we spend an adequate amount of time to explore
all parts of this highly complex effort to reorganize one-sixth of our
economy," he said during the press availability.
"I can give you some examples of the kind of time spent on other issues," the Republican leader added. "Last Congress we spent four weeks on a farm bill. Within this decade we spent seven weeks on No Child Left Behind and eight weeks on an energy bill."