09/18/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Key GOPer: Health Care Reform Needs To Be Broken Down "Into Smaller Parts"

One of the three Republican Senators crafting an ostensibly bipartisan health care bill is now pushing for reform to be slowed down and considered in bits and pieces rather than one giant package.

Sen. Mike Enzi, (R-Wyo.), a member of the famed Gang of Six group of negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee, told a local crowd on Monday that he wanted an incremental health care overhaul.

"We do need to get it right. We need take the time to do it," Enzi told members of the Casper Rotary Club on Monday. "I think the only way it will happen is we need to break it down into smaller parts than we have now and put it through one at a time."

The push for patience and incrementalism comes as Senate Finance Committee has already missed a deadline for producing legislation and is watering down its bill in hopes of winning Republican support. Enzi, who plays a key role in determining what kind of final product comes out of that committee, also expressed support on Monday for a cooperative approach to insurance coverage rather than a government-run plan.

"That is something I am still pushing for," Enzi said. "Small business health plans are one way of increasing choices. Co-ops will increase choice."

The Wyoming Republican is hardly the only member of Congress pushing for health care to be tackled in a piecemeal approach. Over the past week, several major Democratic figures have begun making the case that the party should be willing to accept major compromises on key provisions.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn noted that when he argued for a more incremental approach several months ago, progressives responded with scorn. And yet he continues to believe that true health care reform will only be done in bits and pieces rather than one fell swoop.

"I learned a long time ago that what you have to do in this business is lay out your vision for how it ought to be done," said the South Carolina Democrat. "And if you are convinced that you are where you ought to be, you just don't back off from it... We are not going to, and I think it would be a mistake for any of us to think that we are going to get to where we want to be in five or ten years from now or in one time."

"If you go back and check, in 1964 we passed the Civil Rights Act. But they took voting out of it. If you recall Lyndon Johnson said, we ain't going to be able to do this if we put voting in it. And so they took the voting rights out. But a year later we got the Voting Rights Act. We got the Voting Rights Act in 1965. We didn't get the fair housing law till '68. So, my whole thing is, we have never done this...in one fell swoop. And I think that those who think [health care] is going to get done in one fell swoop -- and I don't mean to be parochial here -- they're whistling Dixie."

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