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REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Well, it"s interesting
that Leader Boehner would say that. That must make him a magician, because
he was fully immersed and involved in all of the reconciliation efforts of
the Republican leadership over the last number of years, including the Bush
tax cuts, which are, you know, even larger than--in terms of costs--
than this health care reform proposal.
You know, the bottom line here is that we just need to pass health
care reform with a simple majority up or down vote. As you said, Lawrence,
the Senate has already passed a health care reform bill, comprehensive
health care reform, with 60 votes, a supermajority. Reconciliation, which
is--you know, Washington speak for simple majority--would just clear up
the differences between the House and Senate bills and make sure that we
can send this bill to the president"s desk and not allow the Republicans to
continue to be obstructionist, which is what they"re interested the most in
O"DONNELL: Do you think that wavering Democrats in the House need
to hear the word "reconciliation" from the president? Do they need
specific leadership from the president validating going forward in a
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think the president needs to remain fully
immersed in this. I think he needs to continue to quarterback the--
bringing the ball, you know, across the goal line here, so to speak.
That"s going to be a critical component to making sure that we can get this
O"DONNELL: What is happening in the House as you watch the public
option gain favor in the Senate as part of a possible reconciliation bill?
Is that giving more possible momentum for the House to insist on a public
option being in the bill?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, of course, we passed a health care reform
bill out of the House with the public option in it. The majority of our
caucus continues to support that. But I think, very likely, we will pass
health care reform without a--we are more likely to pass health care
reform without a public option, because we"ve got the Senate bill as the
template and the reconciliation provisions need to be directly related to
So, I"m not sure that we can do a public option under the simple
majority rules of reconciliation.
O"DONNELL: Now, the leadership has been pretty frank. In fact,
they"ve been more open about this than I"ve ever seen them--admitting
that they don"t feel they have the votes as of now in the House.
What do they need to get those votes? Do they need time? Are there
persuasive devices that they have yet to use that they can use?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think once we start counting, we will
reach the--now 216 votes that we need to send this bill to the president.
With the resignation of Congressman Nathan Deal, the Republican from
Georgia today, we now have--we need a majority which includes 216 of the
members of the body currently.
So, I think we"re going to be working hard to figure out what
members" concerns--remaining concerns are. We also, as the speaker has
stressed, need to put together the final legislative package and shop that
to members, make sure they understand what"s in it, find out what their
concerns are, and as we whip--begin to whip this legislation, I"m
confident, as the speaker is, that we"ll get there.
O"DONNELL: One thing House members have trouble being confident
about is what the Senate is going to do. What do you need to see from the
Senate before the House can act?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, we do need to make sure that they are
going to pass the--they"re going to give us a simple majority vote on the
remaining measures that we need to work out on the differences between the
House bill and the Senate bill--because, obviously, it"s very important.
We have put our votes up on the board for health care reform. We have
consistently been there and underscored the needs to make sure that we can
bring costs down for the American people, provide some security and
stability to those who have health insurance. And with the $100 billion
deficit and the reduction--deficit reduction measure in this bill, we"re
going to be able to get there.
O"DONNELL: Congresswoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz of Florida--
thanks for your time tonight.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you, Lawrence.
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