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Transcript: Sen. Cornyn on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published March 21, 2010 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a rush transcript of the March 21, 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: Joining us now to talk about what happens next if the House does, indeed, pass health care reform is Republican senator John Cornyn, who's in his home state of Texas.
Senator, the first thing that happens if the House passes the so- called reconciliation fix-it bill is it goes to the Senate, and then the so-called Byrd rule applies where each provision in the reconciliation bill must have a direct effect in cutting the deficit.
Are there elements — and if it doesn't, then the Senate parliamentarian can rule those elements out of order. Are there elements in the 153-page reconciliation bill that fail that test?
SEN. JOHN CORNYN, R-TEXAS: Yeah, there are a number of them, Chris. And to your point, this has never been used for anything quite like this before, and hence there's going to be a lot of holes punched in the reconciliation bill. It'll have to go back to the House. They'll have to vote on it again without a lot of the sweetheart deals and special deals that Speaker Pelosi is having to make in order to twist arms to get people to vote for it in the first place.
WALLACE: Well, give me a specific example of a provision in the reconciliation bill that you are going to be able to take to the Senate parliamentarian and say, "Throw that out. It violates the Byrd rule."
CORNYN: Well, the so-called excise tax on "Cadillac" insurance plans that doesn't go into effect until 2018, eight years from now. That affects Social Security. It violates the Byrd rule. And we're going to raise a point of order.
There are 41 senators who signed a letter saying that we will not vote to waive the point of order. So it will fall, either that provision or potentially even bring down the whole bill.
WALLACE: Now, the second thing that the GOP can do is to offer amendments to the reconciliation bill. How many amendments do you guys have prepared in your quiver, if you will, in your arsenal? Are we talking about dozens? Are we talking about hundreds?
CORNYN: I think it's more probably in the order of hundreds. But you know, the point is we're going to — we're going to help the American people understand by these amendments what is in the bill and why they are right when they think it's a bad bill. I mean, the American people don't want this bill, but our Democrat friends seem determined to jam it down their throat regardless, and I think there are going to be some very serious consequences. But we're going to highlight that with our amendments.
WALLACE: Well, you talk about highlighting it, so let me get to the point. You know that as a practical matter almost none, if any, of these amendments are actually going to get passed. So is the point basically to make your point, to force Democrats to vote it down on what you think are unpopular measures?
CORNYN: Well, it is to highlight what's in the bill that is bad and why the American people are right when they say, "We don't want it." So far, this process has been jammed through, a lot of negotiations behind closed doors, special sweetheart deals you've talked about extensively, and who knows what kind of deals Speaker Pelosi has had to make in order to twist arms to get close to that 216.
Now, the most important thing is she's not there yet, and I hope that members of the House who are tempted to succumb to her arm- twisting will realize that those deals can't be upheld once it goes to the Senate, and they're going to be out there all by themselves come election time in November 2010.
WALLACE: Now, you've talked about the fact that you may offer more — or hundreds of amendments, as you put it. Senate Democrats say that if at some point these amendments go on and on, they will ask the presiding officer, who will be Vice President Biden, who is the presiding officer in the Senate, to rule that these amendments are dilatory, which means that they are intended merely to delay or obstruct, and that he can then cut your amendments off.
CORNYN: Well, I think, you know, what this will demonstrate is the desperation of the administration and Democrats in Congress to jam this bill through.
And I don't underestimate their willingness to be ruthless about the process, so that could happen. But I guarantee it will happen on television, on C-SPAN, for 300 — and on Fox News, for 300 million people to see. And I think there will be a terrible price to be paid for this sort of defying public opinion.
WALLACE: Senator, there is also the possibility of legal challenges. Two states, Idaho and Virginia, have already passed laws blocking the individual mandate that would mandate that all individuals buy health care insurance, that it's — they allege that it's unconstitutional.
As a former justice of the Texas Supreme Court, do you expect a lot of lawsuits to be filed against health care reform and, beyond this question of individual mandates, on what issues?
CORNYN: Well, I know early on 16 state attorney generals said they were prepared to sue over the provisions of the Senate bill which favored some states over others — the "Cornhusker kickback," the "Louisiana purchase," so forth and so on.
I don't think we know what the final form of this bill is going to be, but suffice it to say that there are a lot of people in the states, states' attorney generals and others, who will file suit. This litigation may go on literally for months and years.
I think it demonstrates to me, really, the audacity of the administration in trying to jam this thing through. People don't want it.
This isn't like major civil rights legislation, for example, that — carried by large bipartisan majorities. And this is simply too important to do on a — on a partisan basis, and I think there's going to be some unexpected consequences as a result.
WALLACE: You are also in charge this year of electing Republicans to the U.S. Senate, the head of the Senatorial Campaign Committee. Do you intend to make, assuming that this goes through today, a pledge to repeal health care reform a major element of the 2010 campaign, of the November campaign?
And as long as President Obama is in the White House, isn't that basically an empty promise?
CORNYN: Well, I think it will be a referendum on this health care bill. For example, in places like Indiana, where only 37 percent of the public approve of this, you have congressmen who want to be the next senator from Indiana saying they're going to vote for the bill. That will be the defining issue in that state.
States like New Hampshire, known for their fiscal responsibility, where Paul Hodes, a congressman there, said he's going to vote for this $2.5 trillion bill that's that's a job killer, that's going to run up deficits, cut Medicare and raise taxes.
This will be the defining issue in November 2010 and I think, if it passes, in 2012 when the president runs for reelection.
WALLACE: You know, Democrats say — and in fact, Congressman Wasserman Schultz just said here on the air — "Look, there are a number of specific things that are going to help people, that people are going to like, that are going to kick in between this bill passing, if it does pass, and November."
And let's take a look at a few of those. Here are some of them. Insurers will no longer be able to cancel policies if people get sick. They'll no longer be able to impose lifetime caps. Children can stay on their parents' policies till age 26. And some seniors will get $250 rebates for prescription drugs. And there are — there are a bunch more of them.
Won't Democrats be able to fire back in these various states you talk about, Senator, and say, "Look, there are some tangible benefits that are going to make your life better?"
CORNYN: Well, Chris, you know, most of the things you mentioned are not controversial, and Republicans would agree to those.
But the problem is what you're going to see immediately are cuts in Medicare, particularly Medicare Advantage, cuts in benefits for a lot of seniors, and you're going to see much higher taxes. And the benefit, to the extent the major benefits in this plan exist, don't kick in until after the next presidential election in 2014.
So there's going to be a lot of pain and very little gain between now and November and, indeed, between now and November 2012. So I think I'd rather be a Republican running against this bill and saying, "Let's start over," than I would a Democrat trying to defend this bill in November.
WALLACE: And finally, Senator — and we have less than a minute left — what do you think, given the overall political climate, given health care reform if it does become the law of the land, given the economy — what do you think are the chances that Republicans can regain control of the Senate in November, which would mean a net gain of 10 seats?
CORNYN: I think we're going to have some significant gains. I won't — I'm not going to give you a number. I will tell you that in 2012 there are nine Republican seats up, 23 Democrat seats. I think that's the year we turn the corner.
WALLACE: So not 2010 but 2012.
CORNYN: I'm not going to give you a number because I don't want to raise expectations too high, but we're going to have a good night in November of 2010.
WALLACE: Well, we look forward to sharing that night with you, Senator, good, bad or indifferent, and we want to thank you so much for coming in and talking with us. Please come back, sir.
CORNYN: Thanks, Chris.
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