Stupak: I Won't Give Up Until Matters Are Resolved in Health Care

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 15, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: So what's he going to do? Just moments ago, Congressman Bart Stupak.


VAN SUSTEREN: Last time we spoke, you were -- if I may be so bold to say, you said that you were not going to vote for what you saw as the bill that was coming your way. Has your position changed since last week?

REP. BART STUPAK, D - MICH.: No, it's not changed at all. We're still not planning on voting for health care unless we can address some concerns. As I said before, there's many concerns with this bill, especially with the House -- with our vote, we sort of pass the Senate bill without any amendments. It goes to the president, he signs it, and then we have to do reconciliation. What if reconciliation does not get through? I mean, I'm sure we can pass it in the House, but what about the Senate?

Members of the House are very uncomfortable, in a way, voting on a piece of legislation and you don't know -- going to be corrected by the Senate. We have over 250-some pieces of legislation sitting in the Senate, waiting for them to pass it. Is this going to be another one?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, are...

STUPAK: That's -- that's a concern. You're asking us to vote for a very unpopular bill, and the correction, if you will, may never come.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, that's your vote, at least right now, tonight.


VAN SUSTEREN: I realize -- what about your colleagues? I mean, are the numbers there? Because, you know, we're counting heads right now.

STUPAK: As of -- we just all got back into Washington. We expect a long week. But the few members that I've seen, their votes haven't changed. No one has seen the reconciliation, the correction bill, if you will. No one has seen it. So it's hard for members to pledge their vote on a piece of legislation we've never seen.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we hear about arm-twisting. We know today, for instance, that Congressman Kucinich is in Ohio with the president. Congressman Clyburn yesterday said on "Meet the Press" that he thought that they would get your vote.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN, D-S.C., MAJORITY WHIP: There will be no federal funds for abortion, and I think that most people that look at this have now come to that conclusion. And I do believe that Congressman Stupak will end up voting for this bill.


VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, we -- we -- you laugh.

STUPAK: Clyburn's a friend of mine. I like Jim. And he's never really lobbied me or worked me over on this issue, so -- like I said, Jim's a friend of mine, but we've never really discussed this issue. He knows I have deep concerns with this bill, especially on the abortion language. And he also knows that I don't give up until we can get matters resolved. And hopefully, we can resolve these matters yet.

VAN SUSTEREN: So his is wishful thinking on...

STUPAK: Wishful thinking.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. What about, though, the arm-twisting that we hear that's going on? Do you hear about -- any of colleagues who were noes before, especially in your group of 12 on the Stupak amendment -- is anyone wavering?

Watch Greta's interview with Rep. Stupak

STUPAK: Not really. I mean, again, representations are made to members that, you know, Look at this, you should really do this. And members are saying, Sure, we're open-minded. We'll look at it. We're trying to work this out, whether it's abortion language, whether it's the doctors' payment, whether it's the sweetheart deals that are found in the Senate bill.

We'd like to work these things out, but we're down to the point now -- this is a critical time where members would really like to see the legislation and see if it does what they purport the legislation will do. And if it does, I'm sure some members will vote.

But you know, the group that's with me, who's worked so hard to make sure that we keep current law of no public funding for abortion -- we haven't seen any language to placate our concerns. There's been a lot of discussions, but no language yet. So again, we're open-minded. We're willing to work with the administration, willing to work with House leadership, but we want to see the legislation. We want to make sure it takes care of concerns. And there is a lot of arm-twisting going on. There are a lot of members being talked to.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of the language, suppose that the House leadership came to you and said, Here's the language, and it's language that -- it's the Stupak language from the House bill, and they say, This is what we're going to do, and you say, Great, but the problem is, the bill guess to the president for signature, and now it has to come back and got to, quote, "get fixed."

Are you confident that the Senate will fix it with you? Because that's got to be a concern.

STUPAK: What's in the final bill? We're hearing all kinds of things, like education funding's going to be in the final bill, some other funding's going to be in the final bill. We have some fixes on the quality language. I know language was presented to them Friday night on quality. Are all these things going to be in there? I want to see the total bill before I'd say, Oh, OK, good, I'm confident it'll get through.

Remember, all the Senate needs to do is throw one monkeywrench or something different in that piece of legislation, the whole thing falls apart.

VAN SUSTEREN: But the way that it works is that the House -- as I understand it, the House would have to say, OK, we agree to the Senate bill with a sort of a nod and a wink that it's going to get fixed.

STUPAK: Correct.

VAN SUSTEREN: So now you agree to the Senate bill. The Senate bill goes to the president for signature. It now becomes law. Now, the nod and the wink has been -- to you is that, Look, we're going to fix the language. It comes back down for that nod and the wink to fix the language. What makes you so confident that that would even happen, based on the statements you make about the Senate?

STUPAK: Because you have to see the language in the reconciliation package. Are there things in that package that the Senate also wants...

VAN SUSTEREN: So you think the Senate will -- if you see the reconciliation package before you vote on the Senate bill, essentially, you would be fine if the language is right? You'd trust everyone?

STUPAK: No, I didn't say that.


STUPAK: I trust what I see with my eyes. And until I see it and have a chance to talk to a number of senators, both Democrats and Republicans, what's the feeling on the Senate on this final package, and if they are telling me there's problems, then we have problems.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, we are...

STUPAK: I just can't vote for it. I mean, until you see the language, Greta, it's really hard to say you're going to do this or that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what's the hold-up? I mean, or what's the pressure to -- I mean, there's a lot of pressure to vote, and yet you don't have the bill to look at, and you say you want to see the bill. So there...

STUPAK: They're saying to members, What do you need in this reconciliation package to earn your vote? That's really what's going on. I mean, it's not so much what's in there right now, What does it take to get your vote? Whether it's cleaning up the language on abortion, whether it's a doctor fix, whether it's at what percentage does Medicaid kick in for lower-income people. Is education going to be part of it?

I know the Congressional Black Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus really had great concerns that this bill would never leave the Senate, so they're trying to stick it in the reconciliation bill. So what's your concern that we could assure your vote in the health care bill, the reconciliation package and the Senate bill? What are your concerns? That's what they're saying to members.

And members are -- some members are saying, If you do this, this and that, we're comfortable with it. But members always have the right and are insisting on at least 72 hours, once it's finalized -- once it's finalized, no more deals cut, finalized -- we need 72 hours to look at it, to read it, to make sure this is what we're comfortable with.

VAN SUSTEREN: I imagine -- your bloc of 12 is a very, very significant bloc of 12. I mean, that's -- that -- the House leadership would really like to have your 12 votes.

STUPAK: Sure. We're 12 who voted for it before, and we voted for health care and we want to see health care passed.

VAN SUSTEREN: Has the Speaker come to you since I last spoke to you last week, or even Congressman Steny Hoyer, anyone come to you in the top leadership and talked to you, said down and said, you know, What's your problem?

STUPAK: Since the last time we talked?



VAN SUSTEREN: Don't you find that unusual, if they want you and your 11 others?



STUPAK: Because they disagree me with on the issue, so they'll wait until the last minute and see if they can run -- do an end run, get the votes without us.

VAN SUSTEREN: Everyone says no federal funding for abortion. (INAUDIBLE) people say. Yet the language in the Senate bill is very different than the language in the House bill. Those who are pushing the language in the Senate bill say that that's the language (INAUDIBLE) is it because they actually believe it suffices on no federal funding for abortion, or do you think that they are sort of covertly trying to get funding for abortion?

STUPAK: Well, there's no doubt that the Democratic Party is sort of pro-choice party. And the fact that there's been a restriction of federal fundings for abortion has been against a lot of their beliefs. And here's an opportunity to change the law, to change the law to allow, whether it's tax credits or federal funding for abortion coverage, which has been banned for 33 years in this country.

So here's their opportunity. They're taking their opportunity to push that idea, that there should be federal funding, tax credits or subsidies for abortion. They think it's wrong that that benefit is not provided. I think it's wrong that taxpayers would pay for that benefit.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so your 12 says no to the current language.

STUPAK: Correct.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have -- and I assume that some of the 12 have some concerns about some of the -- you haven't gotten the scoring from CBO about some of the economic issues. Do you have any sense now -- are you hearing behind -- you know, as you walk the halls...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... where we stand on the numbers in terms of how far away is Speaker Pelosi?

STUPAK: On my 12?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, not...

STUPAK: Oh, you mean for the whole bill.


STUPAK: Hard to say. I would only guesstimate on my side -- I'm not in there counting votes with them. But I'd be surprised if they have 200 votes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Two hundred?

STUPAK: Yes. They need 216. I'd be surprised if they have 200.

VAN SUSTEREN: When do you anticipate would be the likely vote on this, if it comes up for a vote?

STUPAK: The earliest I can see it, if they're going to give us truly 72 hours to look at it after the Congressional Budget Office scores it -- I mean, the earliest it could be would be Friday night. I think you're -- I think you're looking at a long weekend here.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

STUPAK: Thank you.


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