Bipartisan goalposts

BIPARTISAN GOALPOSTS…. When health care reform gets a final vote in Congress, it’s likely that no Republican lawmakers will join the majority and support the legislation. But GOP unanimity is not a lock, so now is probably a good time for preemptive spin.

Senate Democrats’ overtures to win Sen. Olympia Snowe’s (R-Maine) support on healthcare reform hardly render the reform process bipartisan, one GOP lawmaker said Monday.

Since the healthcare debate began, Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have sought to woo Snowe, a key swing vote, into voting Chairman Max Baucus’ (D-Mont.) proposal out of committee. But fellow committee member Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) bluntly fired back at that tactic on Monday night, perhaps in an attempt to downplay any political backlash stemming from her possible defection.

“I don’t think very many people believe that if you have one Republican out of 100, that therefore, it’s a bipartisan bill,” Kyl told Fox News.

This plays in nicely with the recent talk about the minimum size of the majority necessary for a successful vote to “count.” Assorted GOP leaders (and Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson) have said reform needs to have anywhere from 65 to 80 votes in order to be impressive.

But these ongoing efforts to define “bipartisan” are pretty silly. When Zell Miller of Georgia was the only conservative Democrat to endorse Bush/Cheney proposals, Republicans called the support “bipartisan” — if votes came from both sides of the aisle, the argument went, it counted.

In the case of health care reform, reform proponents are lining up votes from Democrats, independents, Republicans outside Congress, and maybe a Republican or two inside Congress.

If they pull it off, it’ll be pretty impressive, whether Kyl likes it or not.