This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 22, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, listen to this. The Lincoln Journal Star, a Nebraska newspaper, writes, "If Senator Ben Nelson and Governor Dave Heineman were members of the Corleone family, they might be getting ready to go to the mattresses." Yikes! Their spat got revved up when Governor Heineman sent the senator a letter asking him to vote no on the Senate health care bill and then later criticized the senator for getting a sweetheart deal for his state to the tune of about $100 million.
And then Senator Ben Nelson fired back at the governor. He sent his own letter telling the governor he will give up the $100 million for his state if the governor asks him to do so. Ouch!
Governor Dave Heineman joins us live. Governor, so will you be asking Senator Ben Nelson to tell the Senate that you guys don't -- Nebraska doesn't want that $100 million? Are you going to ask him to do that?
GOV. DAVE HEINEMAN, R - NEB.: Well, we've already made it clear, Greta, we want all these special deals removed. In fact, this afternoon, our other United States senator, Senator Mike Johanns, introduced an amendment to strip all of the special interest deals from this bill, and the Democrats objected! That is really unfortunate. All these special deals should be removed from the bill.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now, you talk about "all these" special deals, and I take it that you mean, like, all the ones to Florida, to Connecticut. What about to your state alone? Are you willing to give up the -- are you willing to say, We don't want the $100 million in our state, Nebraska?
HEINEMAN: Absolutely. Nebraska doesn't want a special deal. We only want a fair deal. We're embarrassed by what's going on. We're very surprised. Nebraskans are angry and upset about what occurred. And so they need to set this straight.
I've also asked Senator Nelson -- I'm going to repeat it again tonight. He has a chance tomorrow to vote no on cloture. That would be the best thing for Nebraska, the best thing for America. Send this bill back to committee. Go home for Christmas and think about it and get it right.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any chance that he will vote no? Because he certainly has been on the firing line in the past few days with the suggestion that Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, essentially bought his 60th vote. Is he likely, now that he's on the firing line, to have a different view of this going into the vote?
HEINEMAN: Probably not, but I'm going to continue to ask him to do it. Nebraskans are asking him. They're calling him every single day. They're sending him e-mails. We don't want him to vote for this bill. He has the chance now. He had the chance a week ago. Vote no. Vote no on cloture, and this bill won't go forward.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, one of the interesting aspects is that the senator, used to be a governor, used to be the governor of Nebraska, and when he's been on this show, he's been very concerned about the costs, which is why I assume that he was so content, I guess, to get this $100 million to the state to sort of solve your cost issues with the unfunded mandate.
If you send him that letter, so that now you say you don't want that money, and suddenly Nebraska has that money problem again, will that not have an impact on his vote, do you think? So shouldn't you get the letter to him by the time of the vote, if you want it to have an effect?
HEINEMAN: Well, I think he already knows exactly where I stand. I've been doing interview after interview today. There's no question that we in Nebraska are against any special deal. None of us want to see an unfunded mandate. This doesn't take effect, I guess, until 2016 or 2017. But yes, he ought to vote no.
He knows exactly what's going on. He's hearing loud and clear from Nebraskans, Senator, don't do this. We don't want a special deal. But more importantly, Greta, this deal is bad news for Nebraska and bad news for America. You've got the Medicare cuts, you've got the tax increases, skyrocketing premiums, the abortion controversy in terms of the funding. Again, bad news for America, bad news for Nebraska. Vote no, Senator Nelson.
VAN SUSTEREN: Has he been doing radio shows back in Nebraska? I mean, how much heat back home is he getting on this?
HEINEMAN: Oh, he's getting a lot of heat, Greta. He's been doing radio programs. People are calling in, in opposition. People can't even get through on phones to call him because so many people are calling, expressing their anger.
And one of the reasons why is most of us thought he was going to vote no. We were very surprised when he announced that he was for this. He had given many indications, strong indications that he was opposed to this bill unless they could do certain things, including, you know, the issue involving the abortion language.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I bet he probably thought, you know, Look, I did something special for my state. I got my state handled, and I probably -- he didn't expect this backlash. He probably, in his advocacy, you know, didn't realize sort of the greater -- the backlash on it.
HEINEMAN: Maybe so. But we're a state that believes in high ethical standards. We don't ask for anything special. We want to be treated like everyone else. But I will tell you, it's been a firestorm. It's been a backlash. I just hope Senator Nelson will listen to the voters of Nebraska, listens to our citizens. He still has one more opportunity tomorrow. He could still derail this health care bill by voting no.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you, sir. And of course, all eyes on Nebraska. We'll be watching to see what happens. Thank you, sir.
HEINEMAN: Merry Christmas.
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