From NBC's Ken Strickland
Republican Sen. Mike Enzi today stressed that he's still part of the Senate Finance Committee's bipartisan negotiations to draft a health-care reform bill. "Despite some reports, I am still working with Sen. Baucus and other members of the so-called Gang of Six," he said in a written statement.
Some Democrats have strongly suggested that Enzi's statement in last week's Republican weekly radio/internet address displayed an unwillingness to reach a deal with Democrats. Asked about Enzi's remarks Monday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "It appears.. he doesn't believe there's a pathway to get bipartisan support."
Today Enzi shot back. "My position has been consistent from the start. I haven't walked away from our shared goal of health-care reform or compromised the original principles I outlined as essential to any plan for reform."
Enzi called the bipartisan Gang of Six' meetings lead by Baucus "productive, and I plan to continue with them." More: "This truly bipartisan approach is the best way to solve the real health-care problems facing our nation because both parties are at the table and working on solutions without being rushed by arbitrary deadlines."
The senator also cited the last line of his address last week, in which he said that bipartisanship offered the best chance of passing health-care reform. "That part of my speech is something a lot of people seem to be conveniently ignoring along with my long record of passing bipartisan bills."
*** UPDATE *** On the other hand, Enzi is quoted as saying this, per the Gillette (WY) News-Record: "That (the health care bill) is going to take awhile and I'm pretty sure it's going to fail."
Also, according to the Plum Line's Greg Sargent: "[Americans for Prosperity] president Tim Phillips, who was standing next to Enzi and listened to his whole talk, tells me he left with little doubt that Enzi had declared his blanket opposition to the Gang of Six proposal."