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Public Statements

ABC "This Week with Christiane Amanpour" - Transcript

Interview

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AMANPOUR: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, you are a good friend of Gabby Giffords. And, in fact, you were down here, this week. You came when the President came. What is your lasting impression of what happened?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), ARIZONA: My lasting impression is that out of an evil act, we have had an opportunity to see the overwhelming goodness that exists in this country. And as horrific as this act and tragedy has been, the opportunity that we have had, this week, to see how many incredible people there are in our country. And having been here a number of times to campaign for Gabby and having talked to Gabby about the pride that she has in representing Tucson and the Eighth Congressional District, every ounce of that pride was evident and warranted, this week.

AMANPOUR: How is she doing? You're going to see her, again. You've seen her once.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Yes, yes. You know, she's doing better every day. Wednesday was just a miracle to witness, myself and our good friend Senator Gellibrand and Leader Nancy Pelosi were able to be by her side with Mark and her parents and have her open her eyes, you know, just in our - as a result of, we hope are urging her on to come back to us and rejoin the activities that girlfriends do together.

AMANPOUR: some of these incredible people here saved, not only other people's lives but your friend's life, as well, and we've heard a lot from them, that they feel they were doing what they had to do as people and they don't feel they were heroes. Do you think they're heroes?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: There's no question that they are heroes. (applause) And, I think, every one of us hopes that our immediate reaction would be the selfless response would be to spring into action to help someone else. But, I guess, you really never know until you're faced with that opportunity.

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WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: There is, absolutely. This is not a gap in law enforcement. We have a tremendous gap in coverage for mental health care.

And, you know, as we turn in the next week back to the debate over health care reform -- Tuesday and Wednesday there will be a debate in the House over the proposal to repeal health care reform. And one of the things that we have an opportunity to discuss and debate, which has been highlighted as a result of this tragedy, is that in the health care reform law there is a provision that would develop a mental health basic benefit as part of the minimum benefits that everyone would have covered in their health care insurance plan.

Involuntary commitment in my state is called the Baker Act. I don't know what the involuntary commitment law is in Arizona, but it only allows for involuntary commitment for three days. You can involuntarily commit someone for three days, have them evaluated, they can be held and then they have to be released. And it is only the system that will -- that exists or lack thereof that we have to rely on in terms of when they're released, whether they're going to get the kind of follow-up treatment that they need.

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WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It is absolutely critical that we lead by example. That we take this opportunity to -- going forward -- not shrink from vigorously advocating our views, but stop treating our opponents like the enemy. And try to push the reset button on a more civil discourse because that's what Gabby was a leader on. That's what -- that's what her hopes were for the future.

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