This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," October 6, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: You know, they don't come any more loyal to President Barack Obama that Elijah Cummings. But if the president thinks that he can count on the Maryland congressman to vote yea on his health care reform, Elijah has some news for him. If the big guy dumps something very important, that might — might — turn a yea into a nay.
Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings here now to tell me what that very important thing is.
What is it?
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, D-MD.: How are you doing, Neil?
CAVUTO: Good. Good, Congressman. Thank you.
CUMMINGS: We — we have got to have a public option in this bill, Neil.
And, to be frank with you, I'm pretty sure we're going to get it, in spite of what some naysayers may be saying.
CAVUTO: Well, you will get it in the House, right? The Senate is the dicey part. But then what?
CUMMINGS: Yes. I think it is dicey in the Senate. But you have got to keep in mind, Neil, Schumer was telling me that he sees them — Senator Schumer — having...
CUMMINGS: ... at least 53, 54 votes, at least, for the public option. And even those who may be against it, they are not vehemently against it. And they are looking for some room to help out.
And, so I think that, if we come out of the House — which we will — under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, with a strong, robust public option, I think — and — and we come up with something approaching a public option in the Senate bill, I think, in conference, we will be able to get what the president has asked for and what I have been asking for...
CAVUTO: You know, Congressman, I talked...
CUMMINGS: ... a robust public option.
CAVUTO: I apologize, sir.
CAVUTO: I have talked to a lot of your conservative Blue Dog colleagues. I guess there are 52 of them. And I guess more than half, at last count, are not a fan of a plan that includes a public option, and would vote no.
So, that means getting the votes for just a simple majority in the House suddenly are looking like not a sure thing. How would you handicap it?
CUMMINGS: No, I think we're going to — I — I have absolutely no doubt that we're going to get the public option in the House.
In talking to my friends in the Progressive Caucus and others, I think we are in good shape there. And, again, I think Speaker Pelosi has done an outstanding job.
And I think that some of the people...
CAVUTO: Has she really? Because they are ticked off. When I talk to them, they weren't happy, the way they were kind of treated, shunted aside.
Now, I know all this is a negotiating tack, so you don't want to give everything away before you go to conference with the Senate.
CAVUTO: These were not happy campers, Elijah.
CUMMINGS: Well, I think that she — I have got to tell you, I think Nancy Pelosi has done a great job. She has got to balance the Blue Dogs with the progressives.
CUMMINGS: And that is not an easy task.
But let me just say this. I really believe that the public is coming around. Even the folks that watch you, Neil, I think some of them are beginning to say, wait a minute, we need something that's going to control the costs.
CAVUTO: What do you mean even — what do you mean even the folks who watch me?
CAVUTO: I will let that slide. I will let that slide.
CAVUTO: But let me ask you, Congressman.
That was a very good one. But you couldn't — I wouldn't let that go unaddressed.
Let me ask you about this so-called trigger that they're considering in the Senate.
CAVUTO: You've heard it before. I don't want to bore either you or our audience.
CUMMINGS: Yes, of course. Of course.
CAVUTO: That you will get the public option if the private savings are not realized on the part of the health insurance companies. So, if you build in this so-called trigger, you are going to the public option races.
What you make of that?
CUMMINGS: Well, I think — I think the trigger is a possibility.
And, I mean, if we come out of the Senate with a trigger, I think that is a — that — that is not what I want, but I think it is a good step in the right direction.
CAVUTO: Would you vote for that, then? Let me ask you this. If that is what it came down to, you get your public option, but via maybe something only like a trigger, but it isn't built into the legislation itself?
CUMMINGS: I don't see it as being enough, Neil.
But I do see it if — if the Senate comes out with a trigger or comes up with the — say, the Cantwell amendment, which would basically make provisions so that the negotiations could go forth in states to lower cost of insurance, something like that would come out of the Senate, then we come out with a robust public option from the House, I think that we can in the end come out with a bill that has the public option.
And I just believe that.
CAVUTO: All right.
CUMMINGS: I just think that the American public is getting there. They want something that is going to control the costs and provide them with choice. And I think, Neil, you know, the hardest hitting that was done was during August.
And now the numbers are beginning to slide in the opposite direction. That is for a public option. Is it slow — a slow movement upward? Yes. But I think people are beginning to see it.
CAVUTO: I don't know. I — I love you to death, Congressman, but I don't know what numbers you are reading. You must be reading a CNN poll. I don't know what it is.
CUMMINGS: Yes, well, it's 65 percent — 65 percent, Neil.
Well, let me ask you this, finally.
CAVUTO: Just your opinion. If you were president of the United States, Congressman and you were meeting with doctors at the White House, as this president did yesterday, would you provide, you know, white hospital coats for them to wear, so that they look like doctors?
CAVUTO: Just curious.
CUMMINGS: You got me that time. You got me that time.
CAVUTO: I'm just curious. Would...
CUMMINGS: No, I would — it wouldn't matter.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for them, whether they have white coats, black coats or purple coats.
CUMMINGS: The fact is, is they play a very important role. I want to see them paid. And I want to see them take care of my constituents and people all over around this country who need them.
CAVUTO: All right.
CUMMINGS: They're very special people. So, they can wear a white coat, or a black coat, or a purple coat. I don't care.
CAVUTO: Yes, the purple one would have certainly gotten some raised eyebrows.
CAVUTO: But, Elijah Cummings, always great having you on. Thank you again.
CUMMINGS: Neil, it's my pleasure, my pleasure.
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