Clyburn: House Dems do not trust the Senate

House Democrats don't trust Senate Democrats, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said late this week.

The third-ranking House Democrat said that his members are suffering the consequences of the Senate's inaction, in perhaps the most direct assessment to date of the raw tensions between the House and Senate.

"The House, as you know, has some problems trusting the Senate," Clyburn said in an interview with Talk Radio News Service conducted Thursday and posted on Friday.

The majority whip said that many House Democrats' reelection fortunes are being hurt by the litany of deals with individual senators for a watered-down health reform bill to be able to pass through the Senate.

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"I think what has happened to us is that Democrats have been defined by what the public sees going on in the Senate," Clyburn said. "People keep acting as if we don't exist. The House members passed a comprehensive healthcare bill that was very popular with the American people."

"I think that one of the things we have missed out on is trying to get people to understand that this supermajority — the 60 votes that the Senate says it's got to have — in order to get to 60, they start giving up stuff," he said.

There have been growing signals lately of the infighting between House and Senate Democrats, with Clyburn having called the Senate a "House of Lords," and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) maintaining that Democrats must attend to their "institutional responsibilities."

The tensions are a result of the protracted effort over health reform, with Senate leaders mulling how to proceed after having lost a filibuster-proof majority.

Clyburn said the Senate would have to move first to pass fixes to its health bill, and that the House would refuse to act on health reform until the Senate's passed fixes.

"So what we're saying is, 'OK, Senate, we're going to hold your bill until you pass our fixes. You pass the fixes and send it back to us, and we'll send those things back to you together,'" he said.

Clyburn argued that President Barack Obama's State of the Union address had showcased the House's work so far at the expense of the Senate.

"That's why you saw the president drawing a bright line between the House and Senate — because the House has given him everything he's asked for and what the American people expect," he said.

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