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Transcript: Reps. Cantor, Van Hollen on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published March 15, 2010 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a rush transcript of the March 14, 2010, edition of "Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: After a year of debate, the future of health care reform will be decided this week on Capitol Hill. For a preview, we turn to Virginia congressman Eric Cantor — he's the number two Republican in the House — and Democratic congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who's in charge of his party's November election efforts.
And, Congressmen, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
REP. ERIC CANTOR, R-VA.: Good morning.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, D-MD.: It's good to be with you.
WALLACE: Congressman Van Hollen, let's start. I want to put up the Fox News vote count which shows our latest tally, and you can see it right there, of where the votes stand in the House right now. We have 211 announced votes for the Senate health care reform bill, 220 against, which means that your side needs five more votes.
Congressman, does Speaker Pelosi have those votes? Will — as Robert Gibbs just said, will the House pass health care reform?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, the votes will be there, because what's happening is our members are going back home to their constituents, who are opening up their mail and getting these huge increases in their insurance premiums.
And they recognize that doing nothing is not an option. Small businesses recognize that. Big businesses recognize that. So the momentum has been clearly building. And when this vote comes, I'm confident there will be a majority.
WALLACE: Let me ask you, Congressman Cantor, are you beginning to see the same thing? Do you think that they're going to get the votes and pass it? I know you don't like it, but do you think they're going to pass it?
CANTOR: Chris, there's a reason why we're here today and still the vote hasn't been taken, and that's because a large portion of Chris' caucus doesn't support the bill because six out of 10 Americans don't support the bill.
And the alarming thing that I'm hearing now is that Speaker Pelosi is thinking about bending the rules and, frankly, making it so there's not a direct vote on the Senate health care bill.
WALLACE: OK. Let me — let me go through — and just stand by for a minute, Congressman Cantor, because I'm going to go through a lightning round, quick questions, quick answers, on a number of issues with you, Congressman Van Hollen.
Have Democrats gotten the final CBO analysis of the House fix-it bill?
VAN HOLLEN: No. And in fact, that's one of the reasons we haven't had the vote yet, because, of course, we want to see what the Congressional Budget Office says. That's the reason we haven't begun the debate process.
WALLACE: Will the House vote by next Sunday?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, that's going to depend, in part, on when we receive from the Congressional Budget Office their analysis.
As we know, their analysis of both the earlier House and Senate bills shows that these reduce the deficit both in the 10-year period and the 20- year period. We expect that to be the case with the new bill, but we have to get that.
WALLACE: Will Democrats find some — not rhetoric, but some legislative way to guarantee no federal money for abortions?
VAN HOLLEN: Absolutely. In fact, the Senate bill already does that. What the Senate bill says...
WALLACE: Well, you know that a lot — in fact, Democrat Bart Stupak says that's not true.
VAN HOLLEN: But what Bart Stupak is saying, really, is you can't use your own money to purchase a health insurance plan that provides for reproductive health coverage including abortion.
WALLACE: No, he's saying you have to buy a completely separate policy.
VAN HOLLEN: But what the — what the Senate — what the Senate version says is that you have to write a check with your own money to the extent that you want to purchase additional coverage that covers reproductive services.
WALLACE: But you're not going to go beyond the Senate language.
VAN HOLLEN: I don't — I don't believe we're going to go beyond the Senate language, but I know there are ongoing discussions that have been taking place.
WALLACE: Two more — two more questions and I promise, Congressman Cantor, I'm going to bring you in.
Let's talk about the issue that Congressman Cantor just brought up, the Slaughter solution. This is the chairman of the Rules Committee, Louise Slaughter of New York. Is that still on the table? Are Democrats still considering the possibility of a rule in which you could vote for the rule and you wouldn't have to vote up or down on the Senate bill?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, let's make it clear. We're going to have an up-or- down vote, whether it's up or down on the Senate bill or up or down on a procedure that would include passage of the Senate bill, recognizing that we're amending the Senate bill.
WALLACE: You're saying that after all of this that the Democrats might have — not actually...
VAN HOLLEN: Chris...
WALLACE: ... vote on the Senate bill up or down?
VAN HOLLEN: ... this will be an up-or-down vote. It will be a majority vote. But to try and create the impression that we're not amending the Senate bill, to try and suggest that we're not getting rid of the Nebraska deal, which none of us like, is just wrong. And it's focusing on process over substance. That's what's happening here. Let's focus on...
WALLACE: But that's — a lot of people think that's important. But let — let me...
VAN HOLLEN: Well, let's focus on the substance of the bill. And can I just say one thing about Eric's numbers in terms of the popularity of this? What we've seen is in the last three months Americans are moving more and more toward supporting this bill. In fact, the latest polls show people are about...
VAN HOLLEN: ... evenly divided on this.
WALLACE: What assurance do you need from the Senate that they will take up the House reconciliation fix-it bill before you'll vote on it?
VAN HOLLEN: We need some absolute guarantees from the Senate. We need to be absolutely assured that at least 51 senators there will support the package of changes. Whether that takes the...
WALLACE: What's an absolute guarantee? What's an absolute guarantee?
VAN HOLLEN: Whether that takes the form of a letter, whether that takes the president of the United States saying that he has conferred with 51 senators and they're all on board — whatever form it takes, it has provide assurances to enough House members that they will follow through, because we want to change the Senate bill. We will be changing the Senate bill. We'll be getting rid of the things like the Nebraska deal.
WALLACE: Congressman Cantor, what do you make of this whole process that's going to play out over the next week?
CANTOR: Well, first of all, Chris, there should be, I think, in the minds of most Americans a direct vote on the Senate bill. I mean, I've got the Constitution right here. It's section one — or article one, section seven that says in all cases the votes of both houses shall be determined by yeas and nays.
And right here, we're seeing a perversion of the rules to go ahead and ram through this trillion-dollar health care that's going to — trillion- dollar health care bill that's going to change everyone's health care. And it's simply a bill that Americans don't want and we can't afford.
WALLACE: Wait, let me just — because I did let you talk for quite a while here.
Will — with the president and Speaker Pelosi pulling out all the stops, don't you think in the end they're going to end up passing this bill?
CANTOR: Chris, if that is the case, then the American people will be the losers. This is a trillion-dollar bill attempting to overhaul health care for every single American that the public has decided that's not the bill for us.
Republicans care about health care. We want to make sure that positive reform is effected. We don't accept the status quo. We just don't like this bill.
WALLACE: Congressman Van Hollen, this week House Democrats announced a one-year ban on earmarks — those are the individual members' pet projects — going to for-profit corporations. Then House Republicans announced a one-year ban on all earmarks, for-profit corporations to anyone. Will House Democrats join House Republicans in a one-year ban on all earmarks?
VAN HOLLEN: Let me say, Chris, I've got to smile when my Republican colleagues talk about earmark reform. For 16 years when they had the Congress, they did nothing.
The test of whether you're serious is what you do when you have the power to change it, not what you say when you don't. Earmarks quadrupled during those 16 years.
The first day of the new Democratic Congress in 2007, we put in place transparency reforms, accountability reforms. You could no longer tuck these pet projects in the middle of the night into something.
WALLACE: But, sir, you're not answering my question.
VAN HOLLEN: I'm going to get there, but I think it's...
VAN HOLLEN: ... important to lay the predicate.
VAN HOLLEN: We also passed a provision that says that you can't — you have to sign a conflict of interest disclosure. You can't ask for earmarks where you have an interest in the...
WALLACE: We're going to run out of time.
VAN HOLLEN: OK, Chris. The answer to your question is we've passed a major change in terms of banning non-profits, and it's a permanent change.
What they've said is they're going to do a temporary moratorium. And in fact, if you listen to Jerry Lewis and others in their caucus...
WALLACE: We should say that's not the comedian, that's the congressman from California.
VAN HOLLEN: That's right, one of — he's their leading member, their senior member, on the Appropriations Committee. They — this is — this is eight months. What we did was permanent. All our changes that we've made are permanent.
And the way they got their caucus on board was to say, "Wink, wink, eight months, we can change this when we come back."
WALLACE: Congressman Cantor?
CANTOR: Chris, I mean, come on. Listen to that. I mean, there's a reason why we're in the minority now. I think we've tried to learn our lesson here. We took a significant step the other day in our conference and we said, "We will not be seeking any earmarks," a total ban on earmarks this year.
So whether Chris says we make the rules, Democrats make the rules and not Republicans, fine. Republican members are not taking earmarks. So the effect of this is to say, "Look. There's a lot of problems with the system. It needs to be fixed. We're not going to be taking earmarks until it's fixed." They have refused to fix the system.
VAN HOLLEN: It was a — it was a temporary — your decision was a temporary ban...
CANTOR: We've refused to take earmarks because the system is broken.
WALLACE: OK. We've got less than a minute left.
VAN HOLLEN: ... eight months. We had a moratorium about a year ago...
WALLACE: We've got less...
VAN HOLLEN: in order to provide...
WALLACE: We've got less than a minute left, Congressman Van Hollen, and I want to ask you one last question.
VAN HOLLEN: Sure.
WALLACE: This involves ethics. Back in 2006 when Mark Foley stepped down because of the scandal involving pages, the House Ethics Committee — and the Democrats demanded that the House Ethics Committee investigate whether GOP leaders tried to protect him by failing to report his actions.
Now it's come out that Eric Massa, the New York congressman who just resigned under also ethical charges that he may have harassed some of his male staffers — that Eric Massa's staff reported him to the speaker's office last October.
Why shouldn't the House Ethics Committee investigate that just as they did Mark Foley and the Republicans?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, we just passed a resolution the other day referring that whole matter to the Ethics Committee. And I have to say, Chris, that listening to our colleagues talk about how to handle ethics cases is a little bit like listening to Bernie Madoff on investment strategy suggestions and principle investing.
VAN HOLLEN: No, listen to — listen.
CANTOR: Oh, Chris, come on.
VAN HOLLEN: Under Mark — Eric, come on. Wait a minute.
VAN HOLLEN: When Mark — when the Mark Foley case — the investigation showed they knew for years. They urged him...
VAN HOLLEN: ... to run for reelection. That's a fact.
CANTOR: Chris, the bottom line is this.
VAN HOLLEN: That's a fact. Wait, let me finish, Chris.
CANTOR: The bottom line is this.
VAN HOLLEN: That...
WALLACE: No, no. Unfortunately, we — we are running out of time...
CANTOR: The bottom line is this. The bottom line is this. They keep going — they want to look backwards, you know? You know, the fact is we were voted out of office for a lot of these reasons.
CANTOR: And look. Now the House Democratic leadership needs to be taken into the Ethics Committee and found out what's gone on, because there's a lot of conflicting reports here. That's what Chris doesn't want to own up to.
VAN HOLLEN: That's not true.
VAN HOLLEN: We have referred it to the ethics committee. They never...
WALLACE: You're going to have to — you're going to have take this outside and we'll have a camera there.
WALLACE: Congressman Cantor, Congressman Van Hollen, thank you both. Thanks for talking with us. This should be quite a week.
VAN HOLLEN: Yes.
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