House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., said on Friday Republicans will continue to oppose healthcare legislation pushed by President Obama and the Democratic majority, claiming at one point that using the reconciliation process on that bill would mean Obama's "promise of bipartisanship is dead."
In remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Cantor said Republicans "will say 'no' to this healthcare bill because 'no' is what the American people want and that is our principled opposition that they expect us to pronounce."
His comments were the latest evidence that any hope for a health agreement to come out of President Obama's bipartisan summit next Thursday is probably little more than wishful thinking.
Democrats immediately pounced on Cantor's comments, saying they offered continuing evidence that Republicans are content to be the "party of no."
"While Eric Cantor and his Republican colleagues have for months repeatedly charged that the president is shutting them out of the process, today's comments clearly demonstrate that Republicans are interested only in politicizing the debate and have no intention in working together on reform that makes health care more stable and affordable," said Hari Sevugan, press secretary for the Democratic National Committee.
After his CPAC appearance, Cantor fired back, saying if Obama was serious about taking a bipartisan approach on health care, he would rule out the prospect of passing the measure under reconciliation rules to avoid the need to get 60 votes instead of a simple majority.
"By using the reconciliation process, the administration and Democrat leaders are sending a clear signal that they still refuse to listen to the American people and have no interest in bipartisanship," Cantor said in a statement. Using reconciliation, he continued, "makes clear that their promise of bipartisanship is dead."