Inside Stupak's Quest for a 'Bill of Corrections'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 19, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Congressman Bart Stupak says his life has become a living hell. He wants to vote for the health care bill, but he also wants stricter language barring federal funding for abortion. Could he end up flipping to a yes? And is he trying to negotiate but getting snubbed? We went to his office. Here's Congressman Stupak.


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

REP. BART STUPAK, D - MICH.: Good seeing you, again.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, I've read today that you have been trying to come up with some language, to get some vehicle to get the Stupak language into this bill voted on this weekend. Then I got across my blackberry saying Speaker Pelosi said there will be no further changes in the bill. That doesn't sound good for you.

STUPAK: I'm not asking for changes in the bill in the fix package. I introduced a separate piece of legislation in an enrollment correction bill. It's a procedure in which you are saying before the bill is signed by the president there's a mistake and we have to fix it.

VAN SUSTEREN: And so that would be voted on here in the House, the enrollment correction?

STUPAK: And it would have to be voted on in the Senate. It is a separate standing bill, so it doesn't have to be part of the reconciliation fix, as we're calling it. It is a separate piece of legislation. Both House and Senate would have to vote on, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: It would seem to me there are better odds if it didn't have go to the Senate to be voted on, because I haven't seen any movement in the United States Senate they are interested in your language.

STUPAK: Yes, but as we're all talking health care and wanting to pass health care, this is an issue that still has to be resolved. I'm offering a way to resolve it. I'm not saying they are accepting it. I'm offering a way.

I've been trying to say we've got this problem that is preventing health care from passing. So how can we fix it? Here's a procedure. If you know a better way, Madame Speaker or Mr. Waxman, Chairman Waxman, please show me something. Help move this process along. I'm trying to move the process along.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't mean to plead your case, but there have been other efforts by you to quote, "help." You have shown me eight separate pieces of legislation which has language you can live with, two of which have already signed by this president, and no one seems particularly interested in it.

So now you have more language coming up with a vehicle to get it passed. I'll trying to see why you think now they would be the least bit interested when they rejected you before?

STUPAK: Because we are getting closer to the vote. I really expect the impasse, if you will, if they need my vote. I mean, there are 39 other members who are going to vote against in bill or prediction there's 39 others in the house bill that we passed. There were 39 other members who voted against it.

So Bart Stupak and my group of half a dozen or a dozen people can't bring down this bill by ourselves. Other people have to vote no. So if they need our votes in the House as we voted on last November they will wait until last minute and we'll pick one of these vehicles and see if we can fix it.

VAN SUSTEREN: I noticed yesterday you went to see the president at the White House.

STUPAK: I didn't go see the president. I went to a bill signing ceremony and spoke to the president very briefly and after I shook his hand.

VAN SUSTEREN: We have a picture of you smiling, so we had the appearance maybe you guys were talking about the bill and things look pretty good. I shouldn't read anything into that?

STUPAK: No, it was a 15 second meeting with the president. So don't read anything into it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did he say, "Nice to see you"?

STUPAK: He said we have to work out this issue. I said I'd love to. He we have to get there. I said, yep, change the language.

VAN SUSTEREN: And he said?

STUPAK: Let's keep working on.

VAN SUSTEREN: And he offered nothing.

STUPAK: I didn't expect him to. It was a bill signing ceremony, an act to get this economy going help get more jobs moving in this country, good tax breaks for small business. I was proud to be there to see the bill signed into law.

VAN SUSTEREN: Since the bill signing, has anyone from the White House called and said we want to work this out?

STUPAK: Since then, no.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you heard from Speaker Pelosi or anyone else in the Democratic leadership here in the House in the last 48 hours?

STUPAK: I talked to Chairman Waxman in the last 48 hours.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why aren't you talking to Congressman Hoyer or Speaker Pelosi, because your bloc of six, 12, whatever the votes are, that certainly would help them, because we are seeing the numbers are 214, 215, and you're a big bloc.

STUPAK: I think --

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean bloc of votes.

STUPAK: The issue we're standing up for, the principle of the sanctity of life, it's an issue they just soon avoid, so they are trying to work around us.

I don't expect them to really enter into real, real, real serious negotiations like how do we fix this thing because we need your vote, until they realize they don't have the votes. So maybe the speaker and them are confident that they can pick up 216 votes without us and they don't need us.

VAN SUSTEREN: But then the problem is if there are 216 votes, the fact is every person who voted for that bill, when he or she goes home to that district he or she is the one. They are accountable, but for that vote the bill wouldn't pass. Politically they need more than 216.

STUPAK: Sure, it would be helpful. However, I've been here where we've passed bills by one vote, the deficit reduction act in 1993, certainly very unpopular. Each member, he or she must go home and have conviction in their vote and explain it to the people whether they voted for it or against it.

So if it comes out 216 to 215 everyone who voted for the bill has to go back to their district and convince voters it was the right vote to make, that the legislation is based on merit and not on politics.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's interesting, I hear people talk about Congressman Stupak, I hear comments that he's going to change his vote, things will happen. I don't get that sense when I have spoken to you that you have wavered at all. Maybe -- is there any sort of wiggle room? That has not been my sense of you.

STUPAK: I keep offering suggestions on how best to resolve this issue. They ask for language, I give them language. They say we can't do it this way because of the Byrd rule. We don't want to open up the reconciliation fix because if we open it up for you we have to open it up for everybody.

So I come up, knowing the legislative process, different ways to handle this issue. But it is up to leadership to say, let's run with this or try this, at least trying. Hopefully, we'll have more trying and give and go on both sides and we can get this issue resolved before Sunday night.

VAN SUSTEREN: You have showed me eight choices and you have come up with a different vehicle. So it will be interesting to see --

STUPAK: I want to see health care passed. It really is an issue for me. When I ran in 1992, that's one of the main issues I ran on. That's been 18 years I've been trying, so we are close. Would I like to see health care passed? Absolutely. Absolutely I would. But there's a principle, sanctity of life, I'm just not going to cross that line. Let's keep current law and we can have health care too.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir. I'm sure we'll see you Sunday someplace.

STUPAK: Sometime, someplace.


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