July 29, 2009
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

SENATOR CHARLES GRASSLEY SAYS SENATE
"ON THE EDGE, AND ALMOST THERE" WITH HEALTH CARE BILL
ON NPR NEWS' MORNING EDITION TODAY, JULY 29

ON REPUBLICANS USING HEALTH CARE AS A POLITICAL OPPORTUNITY: "YOU OUGHT TO BE THINKING ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE DOING RIGHT FOR THE COUNTRY, AND NOT JUST WHAT'S RIGHT FOR YOUR POLITICAL PARTY."

FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW, AUDIO AND REPORT AVAILABLE AT NPR.ORG


July 29, 2009; Washington, D.C. – Speaking on NPR News’ Morning Edition this morning, Senator Charles Grassley says that Senate leaders have "made great progress" on the health care bill and negotiations are "on the edge, and almost there." Grassley tells NPR host Steve Inskeep: "Every day we make some progress. Will we get it done so we can get a bill to the other members by this weekend because there is a certain time you've got to give people to study it? We're on the edge, and almost there." Audio of the interview is available at NPR.org. A complete transcript is below.

TIn the interview, Grassley also reacts to statements by fellow Republicans who have said that the health care bill is a political opportunity to "break" President Obama:

SEN. GRASSLEY: Well, my answer to anybody that's looking for a political solution is the best policy is the best politics.

MR. INSKEEP: Meaning you would ask your fellow Republicans not to use this as an opportunity to break the President if they can?

SEN. GRASSLEY: I think that anything that's politically motivated when you're dealing with a life or death situation of every American – and that's what health care is all about – and you're restructuring one sixth of the economy, you ought to be thinking about what you're doing right for the country, and not just what's right for your political party.

A full transcript of the interview is below. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News’ Morning Edition. Television usage must include on-screen NPR News credit with NPR logo. The audio of the interview is available now at www.NPR.org

Morning Edition, the two-hour newsmagazine airing weekdays and hosted by Steve Inskeep in Washington, D.C. and Renée Montagne from NPR West in Culver City, Calif., is public radio's most listened-to program with nearly 14 million weekly listeners. For local stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org/stations

Full Transcript:
STEVE INSKEEP: And I'm Steve Inskeep in Washington, where the future of President Obama’s health care proposal is in the hands of a few Senators, including the man we’ll talk to next. Iowa Republican Charles Grassley is on a key committee and he’s negotiating with Democrats. Senator, welcome back to the program.

SENATOR CHARLES GRASSLEY: I'm glad to be with you, and can I comment on something you just said in describing the Obama bill?

MR. INSKEEP: Please go ahead.

SEN. GRASSLEY: You know, there is no Obama bill, and –

MR. INSKEEP: Oh. Because he's laid out principles and you guys are writing the legislation.

SEN. GRASSLEY: Yeah, you bet. And I want to make that clear because I think the President is taking this so personal, and that's why we're getting a lot of heat from the White House to pass something. And, you know, there's a couple bills out there – the Pelosi bill and the Kennedy bill – that don't do a lot of things that the President wants done, like curbing health care inflation. And it's not revenue neutral, where Senator Baucus and I are trying to work in a bipartisan way to get something that meet the President's goals: that you’ll be able to keep the insurance you've got; you can keep it; and number two, something that bends the inflation index for heath care downward because both of these other bills do nothing with the long term inflationary scale we’re on for health care.

MR. INSKEEP: Well, give me a bottom line on that. Because both you and Senator Max Baucus of Montana are writing your own bill – working out your own bill – do you think it is likely in the next few days that you're going to come up with a bill that Democrats, the White House and possibly some Republicans could actually support?

SEN. GRASSLEY: Well, don't forget there's three Republicans and three Democrats doing the negotiations. And so consequently we have made great progress. Every day we make some progress. Will we get it done so we can get a bill to the other members by this weekend because there is a certain time you've got to give people to study it? We're on the edge, and almost there. But we're not, we're not - either Republicans or Democrats – are not in occasion of something that deals with life or death, and that's what health care is all about. And we're restructuring one sixth of the economy, and we want to make sure that seniors don't get health care rationed. We think it ought to be done right.

MR. INSKEEP: Well, Senator Grassley, given what you've said that there's a lot of intensity here, what are you saying, what would you say to some of your fellow Republicans who seem to want you to break off negotiations, like John Kyl of Arizona who said that you don't speak for him?

SEN. GRASSLEY: Well I don't pretend to speak for anybody but Chuck Grassley at this point, except I’ve been conferring with Republicans throughout the period of time since January with task force meetings that the Republican caucuses had weekly, so that they know what we’re thinking about doing, but you really can’t tell your colleagues what you’ve got until you have something. That's what negotiation’s all about and –

MR. INSKEEP: Well, while you're negotiating though Senator, what are you saying to Republicans who have said publicly that they think this is an opportunity, a political opportunity, to use this issue to "break" the President?

SEN. GRASSLEY: Well, my answer to anybody that's looking for a political solution, is the best policy is the best politics.

MR. INSKEEP: Meaning you would ask your fellow Republicans not to use this as an opportunity to break the President if they can?

SEN. GRASSLEY: I think that anything that's politically motivated when you're dealing with the life or death situation of every American – and that's what health care is all about –- and you're restructuring one sixth of the economy, you ought to be thinking about what you're doing right for the country, and not just what's right for your political party.

MR. INSKEEP: There's a Republican consultant, Alex Castellanos, who put out a much-publicized memo urging Republicans to use different language and to say that Democrats are plotting to drive up costs and do a government monopoly of health care. Do you believe the Democrats you’re negotiating with are secretly plotting to drive up costs and do a government monopoly of health care?

SEN. GRASSLEY: No, just the opposite, but I think I’m right in saying, characterizing the Pelosi bill and the Kennedy bill as doing that, and that's not my judgment, that's the judgment of the non-partisan director of the Congressional Budget Office. Mr. Elmendorf has flat out officially said that neither one of those bills drives down the inflationary goals of health care. Where, now we haven’t –

MR. INSKEEP: Senator –

SEN. GRASSLEY: – ours hasn't been scored, does it do that. But I'm saying, if we don’t drive down health care costs, we might as well all go home.

MR. INSKEEP: Senator Grassley, thanks very much, always good to talk with you.

SEN. GRASSLEY: Right.

MR. INSKEEP: Chuck Grassley, Republican Senator from Iowa.

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