OTR Interviews

With Blunt Amendment stopped, what's next in battle against Pres. Obama's controversial contraception policy?

What's next now in the battle against Pres. Obama's controversial contraception policy?

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 1, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: A big setback for the GOP challenge to President Obama's contraception rule, the Senate today blocking the Blunt amendment. The amendment would have let insurers and employers opt out of providing birth control coverage if they had moral objections. The amendment failed on a largely party-line vote, 51 to 48, but it stirred a fiery debate from both sides.

Senator Lindsey Graham joins us. Good evening, sir.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-.S.C.: Good evening.

VAN SUSTEREN: Surprised at the amendment -- I guess it went along party lines, so no big surprise.

GRAHAM: Well, we picked up a couple of Democrats, I think maybe lost one Republican. The point is that, you know -- you know, we want women to have contraception available. That's not the issue. But religious organizations who do not want to go down the road that President Obama's mandating -- every other health care bill we passed -- the Patient Bill of Rights, all these other bills we've tried to do on the health care front, had a conscience exception, religious conscience exception.

And the amendment was mirroring what Senator Kennedy proposed in the Patients Bill of Rights. He wrote the pope about this very issue under some other legislation. And what Senator Blunt did is basically take Senator Kennedy's language and try to make it an amendment.

This all started not from the Obama health care bill, which is a disaster, but from labor HHS implementing a rule.

VAN SUSTEREN: No, writing the rule.

GRAHAM: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: The unelected people writing the rule because that's what...

GRAHAM: The unelected people...

VAN SUSTEREN: That's what bothers me is the elected...

GRAHAM: That's what people don't understand.

VAN SUSTEREN: The elected people passed a health care...

GRAHAM: Yes, ma'am. You're right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... bill. They went over to HHS...

GRAHAM: There you go!

VAN SUSTEREN: ... to write the rules and people that we never...

GRAHAM: There you go!

VAN SUSTEREN: ... even know the names of and didn't elect...

GRAHAM: You ain't seen nothing yet.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... are writing the rules!

GRAHAM: The Obama health care bill is really going to hurt our economy and make it hard for private sector insurance to survive. I think that's the goal, is to get it all in government hands. But the way they'll do it is not through the legislation itself, it's through the rule-making. Remember the NLRB...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's -- but that's what bothers me, though! That' what...

GRAHAM: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's outsourced to people that we have no accountability for!

GRAHAM: Well, nobody votes. I mean, that's why it's not only important to win the White House but to -- remember the NLRB decision about Boeing in South Carolina?

VAN SUSTEREN: You mean that one in South Carolina?

GRAHAM: Yes. That was an unelected group of people -- it wasn't a statute involved -- that unilaterally decided to bring a case against Boeing for moving to South Carolina.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, you know what, though? I don't have any sympathy for you guys because you guys did it. You know, you -- you elected officials sent it over to HHS! We didn't!

GRAHAM: What's that?

VAN SUSTEREN: You mean the health care bill?

GRAHAM: No. No, no, no. I voted against health care bill. The rule...

VAN SUSTEREN: But no, I don't mean against the bill, but I mean the fact that it goes over to the unelected people.

GRAHAM: Well...

VAN SUSTEREN: That's the procedure.

GRAHAM: Well, and we've been trying to go change it on the Republican side for years, reining in the ability -- a regulation has the same force and effect of law. You agree with that. You're a lawyer.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes.

GRAHAM: I think every regulation that affects the economy like this should come for our approval...

VAN SUSTEREN: I agree.

GRAHAM: ... an up-or-down vote. We've been trying to make that change for years. But the power of the unelected bureaucracy when it comes to Obama health care is going to scare the heck out of you.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Keystone. What's your thought on Keystone?

GRAHAM: Very -- I think President Clinton is right about this. The - - I've been to the oil sands. As a matter of fact, you should go up there to Alberta, Canada...

VAN SUSTEREN: I've actually driven that.

GRAHAM: Oh, have you? Well, I've actually gone there and looked at the place that they extract the oil sands product. The pipeline being built from Alberta down to the Gulf Coast would create 20,000 jobs. It's environmentally sound.

And they're going to sell the oil to China if we don't buy it. And the environmental objections here, I think, are really way off base. And President Obama has made a huge mistake.

And what Senator Schumer said, to lower gas prices here, we should get Saudi Arabia to pump 2.5 million barrels a day more -- my response to Senator Schumer, with all due respect, is that we should be buying oil from Canada, as much as we can, because they're a friend.

We should drill in the Gulf Coast and we should extract oil from ANWR, like Sarah Palin says. That's three million barrels a day without being more dependent on Mideast oil.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right...

GRAHAM: This'll be a big issue.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we -- today, what happened is our Americans got out of Egypt. Congratulations.

GRAHAM: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: We're happy with that. They're safely on their way I assume back to the United States...

GRAHAM: Ambassador Patterson did a great job.

VAN SUSTEREN: But we paid, quote, a $5 million bail to get them out, which is absurd!

GRAHAM: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, they're not going back, so it's not really bail. I'm curious, are we going to get our $5 million back...

GRAHAM: I'm the ranking Republican on the Appropriations subcommittee that deals with foreign assistance. We will get our money back. The charges against these young Americans and their Egyptian associates are fabricated, offensive. We're not spies. This is ridiculous. They're over there trying to help spread democracy. And I'm glad we got them out.

VAN SUSTEREN: We got -- I -- I think it was a -- and I think what -- essentially a bribe. I'm glad we paid and glad we got out. But if we're going to give Egypt $1 billion worth of aid or whatever it is...

GRAHAM: It's almost...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... it's going to be $1 billion...

GRAHAM: ... $2 billion.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... minus -- what is it?

GRAHAM: It's about $2 million. Aid to the military plus economic...

VAN SUSTEREN: Is $2 billion.

GRAHAM: And let me tell you...

VAN SUSTEREN: So -- but I mean, are you going to subtract the $5 million? Are we going to get our $5 million back for this?

GRAHAM: You're talking to the right guy about that.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, but you promise?

GRAHAM: I think we're going to get our money back...

VAN SUSTEREN: OK.

GRAHAM: ... maybe with a little bit of interest. But it was an outrageous claim. These are groups that work all around the world, IRI and NDI, to help people develop democracies.

And the Muslim Brotherhood bears watching. They've got a pretty radical past. But they distanced themselves from this prosecution. They said the NGO law that they were being prosecuted under was unfair and unjust and they want to...

VAN SUSTEREN: And -- and...

GRAHAM: ... change it.

VAN SUSTEREN: But they...

GRAHAM: That's a little...

VAN SUSTEREN: And what they did...

GRAHAM: That's a little bit encouraging.

VAN SUSTEREN: And what they did is they held us up, meaning the federal government, for $5 million to get them out!

GRAHAM: Well, no. Who did that was the judiciary.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, there -- well -- well, in Egypt, the United States was held up to the tune of $5 million to get our people back!

GRAHAM: We will -- we will get our money back. But here's the story about Egypt. They've got a new government just up and running. This is the law from the Mubarak era. The person starting this was a Mubarak holdover. And the new parliament seemed sensitive to the fact this was not the way to start the relationship with the United States.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right -- all right, well, I want...

GRAHAM: We will get our money back.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Senator, thank you.

GRAHAM: Don't worry. You heard it here first.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. We heard it here first.

(LAUGHTER)

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you.