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GOP Senators Warn Democratic Centrists Against Voting to Begin Debate

Senate Republicans kicked off an offensive heading into Saturday’s health care reform vote on Friday, warning vulnerable Democrats against voting to begin debate on the measure and challenging the bill’s price tag.Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Democrats of using budgetary gimmicks to produce a bill that comes in under the $1 trillion price tag and warned the costs will ultimately balloon beyond current estimates. “The majority has engaged in significant gimmickry,— McConnell said, deriding the bill’s delayed effective date. “It’s like asking you to make your mortgage payments for four years before moving into your house.—Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), meanwhile, argued that vulnerable Democrats such as Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) should think carefully before voting to begin debate, a vote he and other Republicans equated with a vote for the bill. The Senate will take that procedural vote at 8 p.m. Saturday.“Opposition runs against two to one … respect the wishes of [your] constituents rather than do the bidding of [Majority Leader] Harry Reid [D-Nev.],— he warned.National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) agreed, arguing that, “No Senator who votes for cloture on the motion to proceed tomorrow I think can with a straight face can contend they have somehow not embraced the bad policy contained in this bill.—Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) sought to tie the looming vote to the recent controversy over a medical panel’s recommendations for mammogram and cervical cancer screenings. Murkowski argued that the changes — which push back the recommended age for annual exams from 40 to 50 — are an example of how health panels created in the bill would ultimately create rationing in the health care system.The revisions are “a peek under the curtain, if you will, of what we’ll get— under the Democratic bill, she said.Ultimately, Cornyn clearly laid out the GOP’s strategy going into Saturday’s vote: “We need to kill this bill and then pivot to a common sense, bipartisan bill.—All 40 GOP Senators are expected to vote “no” on Saturday.

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