Republican hardness against health care reform legislation went soft on Saturday, as GOP senators failed to stop majority Democrats from passing amendments during a rare weekend session.
McConnell said his caucus wilted after the AARP threw cold water on GOP claims that proposed Medicare cuts, intended to reduce overpayments, would instead hurt seniors. A proposal by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) to restore $400 billion in cuts was defeated, 41-53.
“There was shrinkage due to the AARP’s cold water being very cold,” said McConnell.
“Our caucus is usually a few votes larger than this,” he said.
But the Minority Leader said the setback would not affect his floor strategy. “These things happen sometimes. We’ll just try again later,” McConnell said.
McConnell went on to say he had moved to pump up Republican confidence. “I have made an online purchase of a vacuum device, and have been assured it will add 2 to 3 votes to our length and girth.”
McConnell’s assistant, Republican whip John Kyl of Arizona, also said the weekend results would not deter Republican unity in the Senate. “We will not compromise on opposition to government-run insurance,” said Kyl.
“My office has been deluged with messages from concerned citizens who are afraid of a pubic option, and the Republican Party is going to make sure they can go on being afraid,” he said.