The Senate Vote on Health Care: Wait Till Next Year?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, it's on, the battle for 60 votes is on. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid is trolling for 60 votes just to bring the health care bill before the U.S. Senate, and then 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and pass that legislation. Bottom line, is Senator Harry Reid going to get them? Senate minority whip Jon Kyl went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see you, sir.

SEN. JON KYL, R - ARIZ.: Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, having been in the House of Representatives, after all day Saturday and into the night Saturday, do you miss the House?


KYL: Kind of reminded me of old times. No, I don't miss the House. And I thought that was a rather unseemly proposition. We have to rush and do this, don't even have 72 hours to put it out there for the American people to see it, vote late into the night on Saturday night. Obviously, some arms were twisted. And then for what? They wait around for the Senate to act. We probably won't act until sometime next year. And so I wonder what was all the rush about.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I suspect because it's such a close vote, too, in favor of it, to the Democratic favor. I suspect they thought they'd lose the two.

KYL: Greta, I think you broke the code. If they don't have it then, then it might be too late. They won't have the vote later on. The more the American people see of this health care, quote, "reform," the less they like it. So they had to hurry up and have the vote while they had the votes. Wait another month, and they might not have the votes.

But what does that tell you about the representation of the views of the American people? That's what we're supposed to be here to do. And I'm glad that we'll have at least a little bit of time for the American people to see this product before the Senate has to vote on it.

VAN SUSTEREN: What would discourage a senator from voting for more discussion about a bill?

KYL: A senator has said, I don't like a certain thing about this bill. For example, several Democrats have said they don't like the government-run insurance, the so-called public option. Well, why would you vote to go to a bill that has that in it unless you're sure that you can get the 60 votes to take it out on an amendment? Then you're -- otherwise, remember the famous John Kerry line in the debate, Well, I was for it before I was against it -- everyone who votes to go to the bill, even though they hate something that's in it and know that they're not going to be able to get that out is, in effect, saying one thing publicly but allowing it to actually go forward and pass.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so he vote could get stopped at that point, and then it goes back in to be rewritten. Is that likely? I mean, have you looked at the sort of the head counts, got sort of a sense that it would be stopped at that point?

KYL: Well, first you have the vote on the motion to proceed, and that vote is very close right now. It's within one or two either way. If they do get the votes to proceed to the bill, then you're right, then the process of amendment beings and we write the bill on the Senate floor.

VAN SUSTEREN: Even though the Democrats have a majority, they don't - - I mean, they're just squeaking by on the 60. I mean, they've got...

KYL: That's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, from (INAUDIBLE) if you consider, like, which - - who's caucusing with which party.

KYL: Yes. They have 60 votes if you count Bernie Sanders from Vermont and Joe Lieberman from Connecticut, and they do caucus with the Democrats. That's 60. And so if all of them voted, then there's nothing Republicans can do to stop it. We don't have the votes. But the hope is that some of the Democrats or those independents would vote no on one of these. And Senator Lieberman has said right now he would not vote to proceed to final passage because of what's in the bill. So right now, they wouldn't get that 60 votes if all the Republicans voted against it.

VAN SUSTEREN: And some of the dynamics -- you've got Senator Nelson from Florida, who's a Democrat, but he's got a huge senior citizen population there. You've got Senator Lieberman, who's got all the insurance companies. I mean, I'm not suggesting any of these candidates are -- I mean, they've got to consider their constituency.

KYL: Sure.

VAN SUSTEREN: These -- these...

KYL: And you have senators that have -- excuse me for interrupting, but medical device manufacturers...

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator Bayh of Indiana's considered -- or is concerned about that.

KYL: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, right there, those are three votes that look very much in question for Senator Harry Reid. How does he persuade them, or what can he do to suddenly get them on his team because he's got to get to that 60?

KYL: Well, there are basically three ways to get about it. You can threaten people, but that doesn't work very well with senators. You can say to them, I will give you something. What do you want? And of course, if a senator really has wanted something for his state or her state badly enough, it's possible they could say, Well, if you'll just do this for me, then I'll give you this vote. And because this is so important to the people back in my state, when I go back and explain it to them, they'll say, Well, that was a fair bargain.

Or the third way is you could try to make the bill conform to the wishes of their constituents. You know, those of us who are concerned about the cost of this bill would like to see the cost reduced dramatically. And I'm sure many of our Democratic friends would, too. However, I was being a little facetious when I said the third way to do it is to actually appease our constituents, do what they want. I don't think the Democratic leader can afford to do that with this bill. He would lose too many of the members on the left of his party, and then he wouldn't be able to get it passed.

VAN SUSTEREN: Prediction of when the Senate will be taking this up.

KYL: Well, I -- my...


KYL: To proceed to the bill vote, that will probably be sometime after Thanksgiving, within a week or so of that. I do not know. And obviously, it's going to take -- I mean, we've had a lot of bills that have taken five or six weeks on the Senate floor. You do have the Christmas recess in between there, and I don't know how long that will be. So sometime in mid-January, perhaps.


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