A Loud and Clear Message Sent - and Heard

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 20, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: OK, now what? After taking one on the chin in Massachusetts, Democrats are trying to figure out what to do. Hours ago, Democratic congressman Robert Andrews had a meeting with fellow Democrats. What happened? Congressman Andrews joins us live. He is chairman of the subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions.

Congressman, this didn't happen in your house, it happened over in the Senate. But obviously, what happened in Massachusetts has a profound impact in so many ways. So what -- are you beginning to sort of map out strategy in the House about health care?

REP. ROBERT ANDREWS, D - N.J.: First thing we're going to do is go back and listen to our constituents. It's pretty obvious last night stands for the proposition that people don't like the direction of the bill right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does that mean you're scrapping it and starting over?

ANDREWS: No. No, it means we're listening to the concerns that people have and trying to address them and try to find a place where we can get enough support to pass the bill. You know, we're going to listen to our constituents, which is what we're here to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: To me, I mean, listening to that for the first time sounds like a recipe for strategic disaster. Maybe it's -- maybe it's ultimately, you know, the smart thing to do, but you've got so many, you know, divergent interests, especially things on the abortion issue, on the union issue, on the Cornhusker -- the Nebraska issue. I mean -- I mean, there are just so many different points of views that that sounds like -- if you're going to go back to the listening -- listening to your constituents, you're going to rewrite this whole thing.

ANDREWS: I don't think we've ever stopped doing that. And have you ever seen a difficult governmental decision that didn't have a lot of divergent points of view? Look, I think there's a place the American people want to go. It's clear that they're not satisfied with this bill as written. No doubt about that. But I don't think they're satisfied with the health care status quo, either. And we want to find the place where the -- the broadest consensus of the public is and pass a bill that reflects that.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think is the issue in your district that is the most contested or most -- that's giving people the most pause?

ANDREWS: Oh, it's jobs. I mean, it's not health care. My constituents...

VAN SUSTEREN: What about the health care bill? I'm trying to (INAUDIBLE)

ANDREWS: Well, but let's get back to that. My constituents, number one, are concerned about losing the job they have or getting the job that they need. And they tie this into health care because a lot of people think the health care bill will hurt the economy and hurt the process (ph) of getting jobs. I would disagree with that. I think that if you stabilize the health care economy and reduce costs for businesses and families and consumers, you create more jobs. But by far, that's the thing I hear most about at home.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think, then, that there should be a second stimulus bill or not?

ANDREWS: I wouldn't -- no, I don't think there'll be a second stimulus bill. I think that we need to get the money out from the first one. I think we need to get the banks lending money again to businesses that are creditworthy. And I think that we need to encourage exports so we're trading more around the world, instead of importing so much.

VAN SUSTEREN: Going back to the health care bill, which is sort of the thing that's, you know, right there in front of all of us right now (INAUDIBLE) discussion. What is the single most troubling issue, do you think, in your community? I mean, what bothers them the most about it?

ANDREWS: I think people are most worried about the fact that if they like their coverage and want to keep it, they will not be able to. You know, I could tell you, and I've told so many of my constituents, they will be able to keep their coverage, if they like it. We've not done a very good job explaining that to people, and I will take responsibility for that. But I think people who like their health care plan, who very much like their ability to choose their doctor, their hospital, want to keep it. And we want to keep it for them. And I think if we do a better job explaining that, we can find that consensus point that will pass this bill.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what happened? I mean, it's because you've had -- I mean, you had -- not you, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. You've had plenty of time to, quote, "explain" it.


VAN SUSTEREN: So why -- why the -- why the need now? I mean...

ANDREWS: Well, because, look, I don't think we've done as much listening as we should. You know, I heard my friend Lindsey Graham on a little bit earlier saying you get kind of insulated. I think that's true. So you know, I think we're all making an effort to go back and reconnect and do more listening and find that place where the American people think the health care system should be fixed and then try to develop a position that does that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you expect a health care bill in sort of the form that now exists to pass, or do you think this'll be scrapped?

ANDREWS: Oh, I think there'll be changes in this bill. I think we're going to listen to the things that people are most concerned about. For example, there are some people very concerned about the cost of the bill. I think there are ways to reduce it. Absolutely, we should get rid of this Nebraska provision. I mean, it's disgraceful.

VAN SUSTEREN: If that Nebraska...

ANDREWS: And it ought to go.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... provision doesn't go out, can you vote for it?


VAN SUSTEREN: Absolutely not?

ANDREWS: No. I think this is wrong and we wouldn't support it.

VAN SUSTEREN: How about the -- how about the deal that Senator Landrieu got in Louisiana?

ANDREWS: The "Louisiana purchase"? I think that should go, too.

VAN SUSTEREN: So you can't vote for it with that.


VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) and if it's not in there, she can't vote for it.

ANDREWS: Well...

VAN SUSTEREN: So there -- so now she's (INAUDIBLE) How about...

ANDREWS: You know what? When people say they can't do something -- look, in the House, we didn't have that kind of special treatment for any state or any group of people. People can disagree with what we did. But our view was equitable. Everybody was Nebraska in the House. Everybody got treated well under Medicaid. So I think that...

VAN SUSTEREN: So what happened in the Senate?

ANDREWS: I think special deals were wrong.

VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) the Senate just has a different culture and they think it's OK?

ANDREWS: I don't know. I just -- we didn't do it to get our bill through, and I think we should take those things out.

VAN SUSTEREN: And do you think if those things are taken out, I mean, that the Senate bill will ever get voted -- the Senate bill would vote for bill?

ANDREWS: I don't know. I think they will.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which -- and then it goes back to the sort of (INAUDIBLE) beginning, is that, you know, we're going to end up going back to -- and starting over.

ANDREWS: I don't think we start over, but I think we identify the areas of legitimate concern that people are worried about and we address them and we fix them, starting with that Nebraska deal. I mean, I just think -- I think even Senator Nelson himself now says he wants that out of the bill...

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, except he...

ANDREWS: ... which he (INAUDIBLE)

VAN SUSTEREN: He also wrote a letter saying that he thought every state was going to get it, too.

ANDREWS: Well...


ANDREWS: Out it goes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Out it goes. Anyway, it's enormously complicated. Congressman, thank you very much. I hope you'll come back because we're going to continue to cover this.

ANDREWS: I'd love to.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir.

ANDREWS: I appreciate the chance.

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