A top Senate Republican said on Sunday that it appeared the upcoming bipartisan health care summit with the White House would be "pointless" since Democrats could ultimately pass legislation using reconciliation.
Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) described it as a near certainty that congressional Democrats would use budget-related parliamentary maneuvers to get health care amendments passed into law via an up-or-down vote. This, he said, would be the "nuclear option" -- causing paralyzing strife in the Senate and rendering useless a bipartisan health care summit -- scheduled for February 25.
"They have devised a process by which they can jam the bill through that the president supported in the past throughout the Republican ideas in it," Kyl said. "And [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's] chief health care adviser... said that 'there is a trick, but I think we will get it done.' Well there is a trick. Reconciliation is not the process for comprehensive bills like this. It's sort of to balance the budget. It would be what some -- some call it the nuclear option -- to proceed that way. I don't know why we would be having a bipartisan summit down at the White House if they have already decided on the other process by which they are going to jam the bill through that passed the Senate on Christmas Eve."
The Arizona Republican lamented the fact that the "Democrats have already decided on the so-called nuclear option" -- the reconciliation process.
"If that's the case," he said, "then obviously it's pointless to talk because they made up their mind and they will ram it through whether we like it or whether the American people like it."
Though Kyl criticized the summit, which will be broadcast live in its entirety, he had previously advocated for a transparent health care negotiation process. Kyl indicated that he was less concerned about backroom deal-making when it came to the Senate jobs bill. Republicans have been included in those negotiations.
"The truth of the matter is, a lot of things here are done by staff behind closed doors, and it's not always the wrong way to put something together, as long as you have plenty of time for that product to get out to members so they can evaluate it, have the public take a look at it," Kyl said last week.