Inside a Heated Debate on the Senate Floor

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 24, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, the health care battle is getting rougher, if that is possible. Check out what happened today -- Democratic Senator Max Baucus and Republican Senator John Kyl butting heads up big time during a Senate Finance Committee debate.


SEN. JON KYL, R - ARIZ.: A study that said $100 billion...

SEN. MAX BAUCUS, D - MONT.: Senator, you've made your point.

KYL: Mr. Chairman, let me just complete my thought.

BAUCUS: In about one minute, you can complete your thought. We've got to...

KYL: I'll complete my though and then make another point, Mr. Chairman.

BAUCUS: You are delaying, senator.

KYL: Mr. Chairman, I am not delaying. I am making an extremely important point.

BAUCUS: It is a very, very important point, but you are also delaying.

KYL: Mr. Chairman, it is courteous if you do not interrupt somebody right in the middle of the sentence they are trying to make.


VAN SUSTEREN: Yikes. Well, earlier Senator Kyl gave us the inside story.


VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

KYL: Thanks, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: This is where it is being done?

KYL: This is where the sausages is made.

VAN SUSTEREN: The Senate Finance Committee, and you were seated, I guess you still mean you have a seat next to Senator Olympia Snowe.

KYL: Correct.

VAN SUSTEREN: Has it gotten heated in here?

KYL: It's nice and cool here. It's very heated down there.

VAN SUSTEREN: What happened this morning? I heard you had a little exchange with...

KYL: Well, Senator Baucus is under a lot of pressure. His leadership is telling him to hurry up and get this done. Most of us are saying, wait a minute, this is a big deal. It affects people's lives literally. We need to do it right.

And so whenever we -- I shouldn't say whenever, but sometimes when we tried to get something fleshed out to understand it fully and to ask questions of the staff and to even debate amongst ourselves, he's gotten frustrated and devils us to shut us up, basically.

And he gaveled me before I even had a chance to make an argument on important amendment. He took the vote. He thought we had a vote on the Senate floor and he had to hurry up. That wasn't true.

So he needs to calm down about the Senators debate this of the American people can understand what is in it.

VAN SUSTEREN: You are a signer to a letter to secretary of age HHS Sebelius. You want a gag order lifted. What is it you say that she is gagging?

KYL: What she has done as the secretary of Health and Human Services and therefore with jurisdiction over something called CMS, which is the entity that controls Medicare and Medicaid, what they have done is to send a letter to all the insurance companies and say we cannot write to your beneficiaries and tell them what is in this legislation pending before Congress and suggest that they might want to contact their representatives in Congress and tell them what they think about it.

Now, that's obviously an expression of free speech. These insurance companies don't lose their free speech simply because they are enrolling Medicare beneficiaries, for example.

But they put a gag order on them. They sent a formal notice how to all the companies saying you should immediately cease and desist any such communication. You won't engage them in the future unless you check with us first. That's wrong.

VAN SUSTEREN: So then you sent a letter off to Sebelius saying stop that?

KYL: That's right, saying that is wrong. It is a violation of the First Amendment. You cannot do that to these companies, and don't do it.

And one of the things we said is if you don't do that then the Senate is not going to be able to act upon important nominees to your department.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is getting hot, isn't it.

KYL: It is.

VAN SUSTEREN: The stakes are high, people are making news in getting mad.

KYL: That's right. And we ought to all of us just calm down and appreciate the fact that a vigorous debate, first of all, needs to be had, but you do not have to cut people off, you do not have gag orders.

I know emotions are high you don't make good decisions when emotions were high.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here's what I don't understand is that with the exception of Sen. Blanche Lincoln's Senate finance is not going to go on the Internet, so I know you want to take a look at it, the Republicans do, but so do some taxpayers. I would like to take a look at it, I'd like to see it.

KYL: That's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is their thinking why we can't see it? I know you're not that stupid, and I think one of the things is we -- I think we won't understand it.

KYL: That's right. They made two arguments. First, you will not understand it, it is legal language. Well, as lawyers, yes we do.

VAN SUSTEREN: Write it plain so we understand it.

KYL: That's another thing. We could do a better job of writing it so that people could understand it better.

But secondly, they say it might take two weeks. First of all, it does not have to take two weeks. Senator Snowe and I were talking that if they would start right now doing the legislative language as we go along rather than waiting is all done, they could have it essentially done when we finish our voting.

The reason this is important is not just so we will have the actual language of the bill to read, but so that they the Congressional Budget Office, which has to figure out how much this will costs, will have the language.

And the head of the budget office wrote to us and said that the actual legislative language could significantly change his estimates of the costs. But those are his words.

So we passed conceptual legislation, would be put into the actual words, he doesn't suck amateur costs. So our Democratic friends are saying is we are going to have something representing their constituents before we knew actually how much it costs.


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