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'Pray Somebody Can't Make the Vote'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 21, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Is Republican senator Tom Coburn losing friends? Now, before this morning's 1:00 AM vote, Senator Coburn said, "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote." Well, many people were not happy with that comment. Senator Coburn told us his side of the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you're taking a lot of heat for a remark you made about prayer. And I don't know what the exact words are, but go ahead, fill in the blanks.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: ... Senator Durbin and...

SEN. TOM COBURN, R - OKLA.: Well, first of all...

VAN SUSTEREN: What did you say?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COBURN: What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COBURN: I wouldn't back away from that. I'd love for everybody's alarm clock that's for this thing not to work. You know, the fact is, is this is an epic change in our country. It's a reduction in freedom in our country. It doesn't reform health care, it just expands the mess that we have today. And it tells you a couple things. They didn't want to talk about the bill, they wanted to talk about what somebody said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN, D - ILL.: I don't think it's appropriate to be invoking prayer to wish misfortune on a colleague, and I want him to clarify that. I've invited him. I've tried to reach out to him. He is my friend and I have worked with him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COBURN: And I think in Senator Durbin's comments, what he said was, "my friend." Well, if you think your friend said something that's inappropriate, you don't go blast him on the floor, you go say, What did you mean by that? I mean, that's a friend.

VAN SUSTEREN: So I take it you guys aren't friends, at least not (INAUDIBLE)

COBURN: Well, no, he -- he's still my friend. I would never do that to him. I'd go ask him what he meant before I'd go and blast him on the floor if I thought -- and everybody knew that I wasn't -- you know, as a physician, I wouldn't wish ill health on anybody. And they know that.

But it's the politics of silliness that we get into in Washington when we're stretching things out and doing things of major consequence in this country, when it's all partisan. And so that was all about partisanship. You know, he didn't say one thing -- he didn't refute one of the other things that I said during that debate about how this is going to harm patients. He didn't say anything about that.

VAN SUSTEREN: So I guess everybody's pretty raw at this point.

COBURN: I think they're pretty raw, but I mean, that's to be expected. You know, we're going to be here four weeks solid, three weekends in a row, and people's nerves are on edge. But they're also wanting to spin their position. So if you can change the subject to something somebody said, rather than talk about the health care bill and how it's really going to destroy the best of what our health care is in this country, then that makes for good play and good copy.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, explain to me the abortion language in this bill. There's a lot of controversy surrounding it. Do you believe that the language allows for federal funding of abortion as it is now?

COBURN: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: How?

COBURN: Because all the money is fungible. Do you believe that the dollars that are paid into Social Security will be spent on Social Security?

VAN SUSTEREN: Do I believe that?

COBURN: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: No.

COBURN: No. OK. It's the same thing. You get money taken out of your check every week for Social Security, but it doesn't get spent on Social Security, does it. It gets spent on everything else up here except Social Security.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what would you do with the language (INAUDIBLE)

COBURN: I would do the Stupak amendment and not change 32 years of precedent. Look, the plan ultimately is for them to eliminate the Hyde amendment. That's -- and the Hyde amendment is a rider, and it's put on appropriation bills every year. Except the plan ultimately is to get rid of that so that we can fund abortions with your taxpayer money.

The problem -- it isn't the abortion issue, it is what people think about how their tax dollars ought to be spent. We're divided on abortion in this country, and the only way we change that is change hearts. But taking money from somebody who is adamantly disagrees with that decision and taking their money to provide an abortion for somebody else is wrong. And there needs to be a firewall. There's no firewall in this. That money is fungible.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there -- why wasn't the Stupak language used in the Senate bill?

COBURN: Because it was tabled. We voted on it and they tabled it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why?

COBURN: Because -- because...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: ... get together, at least there would be a greater likelihood that the language -- you know, you'd agree with the House.

COBURN: Because the intention of the majority of the senators in the U.S. Senate is for federally-funded abortions. That's why.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, Senator Casey and Senator Nelson, both who are adamantly opposed to abortions, they -- they would -- they're still in favor of this language.

COBURN: Well, but they haven't talked to the Catholic bishops. They haven't talked to the National Right to Life. They haven't talked to all the other interest groups that say, What you've done is wrong. So how is it that they're still adamantly pro-life and believe this does it, and everybody else that has followed this for years and has been key to maintaining the legislation says, No, you're wrong? So either Senator Casey and Senator Nelson are right, or 100,000 other key movers and shakers in the pro-life movement are wrong.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you very much for joining us.

COBURN: Good to be with you. Merry Christmas.

VAN SUSTEREN: Merry Christmas!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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