OTR Interviews

GOP Mulls Methodical Dismantling of 'Obamacare' After Senate Repeal Vote Fails

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 3, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: It's been only one day since Senate Republicans lost the vote to repeal the entire health care law. But they are not throwing in the towel. You go to Capitol Hill to hear the next step from Republicans. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you. Senator, I came to talk to you about the health care law, but let me first ask you about Egypt. I imagine you have some attention on what is going on overseas?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Yes. Like others I've tacked to the administration about how they are handling this. I have no particular complaints. I think in an issue like this we ought to speak with one voice. We only have one president, one secretary of state.

I would say keep your eye on the Egyptian military. We know that is the one entity in the country that seems to be well respected by everyone. And at the end of the day they are likely to be the ones who orchestrate the transition from Mubarak to whatever comes next.

VAN SUSTEREN: You get the sense that while this is going on there's a lot of other business going on that is important. Health care law the business of the government still goes on so many issues, including health care. Where do we stand now on the health care law? You lost the repeal vote, so now what are you going to do?

MCCONNELL: First, we promised the American people we would try to repeal it. The House passed the repeal. We came up short it was a party line vote with every Republican voting to repeal. Now we go after it piece by piece.

There are bills introduced to eliminate the mandate, the individual mandate. We know that's in court as well. There are bills giving states the option to pull out. So, we'll be offering other amendments as we move along to try to dismantle this.

VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned the individual mandate and the lawsuit. The state of Virginia has asked that the case be fast tracked to the Supreme Court and they could not get agreement from the justice department to make it a joint request.

The White House could easily give a direction to attorney general and say let's fast track it because the constitutionality of the statute is going to be decided by the Supreme Court, so why not do it now?

Is it likely that the Senate, Democrats, Republicans, will call the White House and say let's move this quickly and get it decided once and for all?

MCCONNELL: I don't think it is likely the Democrats will. I think their strategy is to drag this out hope it gets so far down the path toward implementation that there's no practical way to undo it.

Our view is we ought to get it to the Supreme Court as rapidly as possible and find out whether it has a constitutional impediment. If it does and if the individual mandate is unconstitutional, then the whole thing falls like a house of cards and we would save states and ourselves a lot of money by figuring that out at the beginning rather than later.

VAN SUSTEREN: Dragging it out in the court system is not an efficient use of American taxpayer money.

MCCONNELL: It sure isn't. It would be a lot better if we could repeal it sooner.

VAN SUSTEREN: Even if it is held up, at least we know.

MCCONNELL: This is a fight worth having, because If we lose this fight America won't be the country it is now for our children and our grandchildren.

This was the defining moment in my view of the previous Congress. Americans looked at what was going on they saw the government running banks, insurance companies, car companies, doubling our debt in five years, tripling it in 10.

Then the final straw was when they took over our health care and individuals across America looked and said now they are messing with my health care. This is a big seminal moment about the leftward surge of the federal government in the last congress.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm just saying we can have it now efficiently in the Supreme Court. They are going to do it any way my only objection is, do it now.

MCCONNELL: I agree. I would love to expedite the Supreme Court decision. The attorney general in Virginia, as you pointed out, would like to expedite it. The administration didn't want to. They want to drag it out. I would like a quick conclusion on the issues of constitutionality. But even if the court says it is constitutional, that still doesn't mean it was right to do. And we are not giving up.

VAN SUSTEREN: At least we are farther didn't the road instead of uncertainty, and now we are in limbo.

MCCONNELL: I think it would be better to decide sooner rather than later.

VAN SUSTEREN: You want to call the president on that one?


MCCONNELL: I'm sure he'd take my advice on this.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, senator.

MCCONNELL: Thank you.