This afternoon, on a press call with reporters, RNC Chairman Michael Steele suggested that the Democrats’ effort to pass the health care bill in the Senate was equivalent to flipping the bird to the American people:
STEELE: I mean, it just annoys and irritates me on something so fundamentally important. That this Congress, this leadership, is so tone deaf and so hell bent on propping up a policy that the American people doesn’t want, that they’re willing to basically flip the bird to the American people on this issue and slip it in in the dead of night.
Of course, the only reason why Congress held the cloture vote at 1am this morning, was because Republicans filibustered the bill. Last night, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) offered a unanimous consent agreement to move the 1am vote to 9am this morning if Republicans agreed to forgo the optional 30 hours of debate between each cloture vote and still pass the final legislation before Christmas. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who had also sternly criticized the early morning vote, objected to the measure.
While the public is weary of health care reform, public disapproval of health care reform intensified as progressives were forced to sacrifice liberal provisions to find common ground with more moderate lawmakers. As the bill became more conservative, public option began to wane. A recent CBS News/New York Times Poll found that while 50% of Americans disapprove of the way “Barack Obama is handling health care,” 59% favored “offering some people who are uninsured the choice of a government-administered health insurance plan.”
At a press conference, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) responded to Steele’s comment. “I’m disappointed that someone with the title that Mr. Steele has would be so crass and set such a terrible example for the youth of this country,” he said.