Roll Call: Alexander Tells Democrats to Slow It Down

Posted on January 21, 2010

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) on Thursday once again urged Democrats to abandon their efforts to enact wholesale changes to the nation’s health care system or overhaul energy and immigration policies, arguing that Sen.-elect Scott Brown’s (R) victory in the Massachusetts special election suggests the public wants a less ambitious approach.

“Tuesday’s election in Massachusetts is the latest reminder that the American people are tired of risky comprehensive schemes featuring taxes, debt, Washington takeovers — and lots of hidden and unexpected surprises,” Alexander said in a floor speech Thursday.

In his speech, Alexander attacked Democrats for acting “arrogant” in pursuing their sweeping agenda. The No. 3 Senate Republican also took a swipe at moderate Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who has been suffering a political backlash for securing special provisions in the health care bill for his home state.

“How can a Senator be so sure that some provision stuck in a 2,700-page partisan bill in secret meetings and voted on during a snowstorm at 1 a.m. won’t come back around and slap him or her in the face — such as trying to explain why Nebraska got a ‘Cornhusker Kickback’ to pay its Medicaid expansion and my state didn’t?” Alexander asked.

“It is time to declare that the era of the 1,000-page bill or the 2,000-page bill or the 2,700-page bill is over,” he added.

Alexander and other Senate GOP leaders have increasingly pressed Democrats to consider “step-by-step reforms” rather than major changes.