CBS News: Alexander: GOP "Completely Cut Out" on Health Care

From the Political Hotsheet

Posted on January 27, 2010

Sen. Lamar Alexander said the GOP has a "responsibility" to work with President Obama, even though Democrats "completely cut out" Republicans from the health care debate.

"For 25 consecutive days the Democrats met. They wrote their health care bill in secret. We didn't have anything to contribute to it. They brought it up in a snowstorm. Voted at 1:00 A.M. And said we have to pass it before Christmas. … We were completely cut out of the health care debate," the Tennessee Republican said on CBS' "The Early Show" Wednesday.

Alexander responded to an earlier comment made by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who said "the Republican party is now responsible for helping to govern this country" after Democrats lost their super-majority in the Senate after the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts.

Special Report: Obama's 2010 State of the Union

"Well, when Democrats had 60 votes and Republicans required 60 votes for virtually everything that [Democrats] wanted to pass, they didn't have to play a role in that 60 votes. Democrats now have 59 votes. If Republicans are going to insist on 60 votes for everything, they have to be partners in this," Gibbs said.

Gibbs added that politicians must "stop pretending that every day in Washington is Election Day."

The political jostling comes as President Obama prepares to deliver his first State of the Union address at a time when his public support is eroding. While originally hoping to tout the passage of health care reform during the speech, the hot-button issue remains unresolved.

But Alexander said the Republicans are willing to work with Mr. Obama and hopes the White House will reciprocate.

"I hope so. I think back when I was very young and I came up here and President [Lyndon B.] Johnson had bigger majorities than President Obama and he had a civil rights bill to pass. Where did he write it? In the Republican leader's office. … He got his bill."