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National

Arizona Republican Hopes Senators Can Work Together On Health Care

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

You can make a case that the United States Senate did its job last week. The Senate is designed to slow things down and build consensus. Faced with a hurried vote on a series of one-party health insurance proposals, about which, even many Republicans had doubts, the Senate shot them all down.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The Senate's action does leave at least two big questions, which we'll tackle now. First, how should the health markets change? And second, should Congress do business differently?

MARTIN: Arizona Senator Jeff Flake says Congress should change. He was on the losing side of Thursday's final health care vote.

INSKEEP: When it was over, he said he was ready for a bipartisan approach to the most partisan of issues.

JEFF FLAKE: I don't know about everybody, but I can tell you a good chunk of us were and are. I had discussions with some of my colleagues that I'd worked on a bipartisan basis with on some other issues after this, saying, why can't we do it here?

INSKEEP: OK. Calling for bipartisanship is pretty common. Delivering is less so. As we hear elsewhere this morning, Jeff Flake is author of a book arguing his party has lost its way. And he is among those arguing that it is time to stop trying to jam Republican-only bills through a Republican Congress. There is a process, ignored on health insurance, for sending bills through a committee - you know, like in that old "Schoolhouse Rock!" video.

FLAKE: Typically, at the committee level, you'll get more bipartisanship. People will be willing to reach across the aisle and work out differences. So I hope that that's where we go from here. I don't know where else we go from here.

INSKEEP: How do you think it is that the Republican Party, after decrying the one-party imposition of the Affordable Care Act, would've ended up in the situation they've been in the last few months of trying a one-party solution to the very same issue.

FLAKE: Well, I mean, to be fair, the Democrats haven't been exactly cooperative here. I think that they believe, you know, hey, let's let them reap the whirlwind. Having said that, I think, you know, it's incumbent on the party that's in charge to look for ways that we can work together.

INSKEEP: Now some Democrats say they're willing to talk with Republicans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.