GOP senators say they can work with Dems despite healthcare battle

GOP senators say they can work with Dems despite healthcare battle

Republican senators say they can work with Democrats, despite dire predictions that the healthcare fight would make cooperation impossible.
 
Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMellman: Where are good faith and integrity? GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech MORE (R-Ariz.) warned that using reconciliation to block a GOP filibuster and pass healthcare legislation could destroy the fabric of the Senate, but the explosion that some insiders expected never happened.
 

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Now Republican centrists say they are willing to move forward with Democrats on other issues.
 
Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), the Republican that Democratic leaders consider most likely to join them on future initiatives, says she is still willing to work across the aisle.
 
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamFBI’s top lawyer believed Hillary Clinton should face charges, but was talked out of it Overnight Defense: Graham clashed with Pentagon chief over Syria | Talk grows that Trump will fire Coats | Coast Guard officer accused of domestic terrorism plot Graham cursed at acting DOD chief, declaring himself his 'adversary' MORE (S.C.), who is negotiating with Democrats on energy and immigration reform legislation, has said he will not cut off talks because of the controversial use of reconciliation, which allowed Democrats to move a package of fixes to the healthcare legislation with only simple-majority votes.
 
The working order of the Senate appears to have emerged intact.
 
Sen. Judd Gregg (N.H.), the Republican point man on reconciliation rules, told The Hill the rulings of parliamentarian Alan Frumin were “fair.”
 
Gregg’s assessment was markedly different from GOP grumblings that preceded the debate. Republican senators and aides had questioned the parliamentarian’s impartiality, pointing to his decision to allow the reconciliation package to proceed without first going through Senate committees.
 
Some Republicans said the day-to-day functionality of the Senate could be blown up with the use of reconciliation rules.
 
McCain compared use of reconciliation for healthcare reform with the "nuclear option" the Republican-controlled Senate considered several years ago. Democrats said it would have essentially shut down the Senate and obliterated the possibility for bipartisan compromise.
 
“The last time when there was a proposal that we Republicans in the majority would adopt a 51-vote majority [it was] on the issue of the confirmation of judges,” McCain told Obama during the healthcare summit.
 
“There was a group of us that got together and said, no, that’s not the right way to go because that could deal a fatal blow to the unique aspect of the United States Senate, which is a 60-vote majority,” McCain said.
 
Graham warned earlier this month that Democrats would “poison the well” if they passed healthcare reform legislation with a simple majority, instead of the 60 votes that measures require under regular order.
 
But Graham backed off his earlier warnings Sunday and said he would continue to work with Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (D-N.Y.) on immigration reform and other issues.
 
“I’m going to work with Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE to come up with legislation to control China’s manipulation of their currency; I will keep working with Chuck on immigration,” Graham said in a Sunday television interview.
 
Graham said it would be difficult to pass an immigration measure, for example, but he attributed that to the political wariness of Democratic centrists who fear repercussions from the healthcare bill. A recent Washington Post poll showed that 50 percent of people oppose the new law.
 
Snowe said last week that she would first review any legislation Democrats ask her to support but added that she is open to bipartisan negotiations in coming weeks.
 
Snowe said she is hoping to advance a measure designed to help small businesses that she has worked on with Senate Small Business Committee Chairwoman Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuLobbying world Former New Orleans mayor: It's not my 'intention' to run for president Dems grasp for way to stop Trump's Supreme Court pick MORE (D-La.).
 
Snowe, however, cautioned that her willingness to cooperate has its limits and urged Democrats not to push bills that are too sweeping in scope.
 
“I think we've got to get modest and practical, and practicality is job creation and jumpstarting the economy,” Snowe said.
 
Also last week, during the height of the reconciliation debate, Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE (R-Tenn.) suggested that Republicans could gain more policy-wise by working with Democrats.
 
Corker said Republicans should have engaged Democrats earlier in the crafting of financial regulatory reform, questioning the harder-line stance that leadership took on the issue.
 
“I just think we should have been engaged since October in trying to seek a compromise bill,” Corker said.
 
He noted that the ability to mold legislation diminishes the further it wends its way through the process.
 
Even after a week spent on the reconciliation bill, Democratic and Republican leaders were still able to come together on a compromise to pay for an extension of unemployment benefits.
 
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSanders hires veteran progressive operative to manage 2020 bid Constitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Klobuchar: 'I don't remember' conversation with Reid over alleged staff mistreatment MORE (D-Nev.) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFox News has covered Ocasio-Cortez more than any 2020 Dem besides Warren: analysis Durbin after reading Green New Deal: 'What in the heck is this?' Dems think they're beating Trump in emergency declaration battle MORE (Ky.) reached a deal to pay for extending benefits for one week so it would not add to the federal deficit.
 
The deal derailed only because of the opposition of House Democratic leaders, who did not want to set a precedent of offsetting the cost of emergency legislation.
 
“The Senate came together and agreed on both a one-week and a two-week extension that was paid for,” said Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Worries grow about political violence as midterms approach President Trump’s war on federal waste American patients face too many hurdles in regard to health-care access MORE (R-Okla.), who on Friday described the near-deal as a “positive sign” of bipartisan willingness to address deficit spending.
 
“We agreed on the paid for, which means we weren't going to add anything to the debt, and the consequence of that was communicated to the House. And the word back was, we don't want to set the precedent of paying for things,” Coburn said.