EXCLUSIVE: Biden Says White House Getting Earful from Nervous Lawmakers Over Health Care

Vice President Joe Biden said today that vulnerable members of Congress, worried that the health care reform legislation will cost them their jobs, have expressed their frustrations to the White House and have been critical of how the issue has played out over the last year.

"They say, 'Well Joe, look man, I mean, you know, you guys haven't messaged this very well,'" Biden told ABC News' Jake Tapper in an exclusive interview in Durham, N.C. "And, 'You know, this thing has gone on so long.'"

Regular Joe
Day in the Life of Joe Biden

Biden said his response to worried lawmakers is simple: "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

"I'm telling you, you know, pre-existing [conditions], they're going to be covered. You know we're going to control the insurance companies," the vice president said. "You know people aren't going to lose their health care with their employer like is being advertised."

Biden said once these provisions take effect and the American people feel the impact, lawmakers who vote "yes" will reap the benefits.

"They're going to see right off the bat the horrible [things] aren't real and there are some very good things that become apparent immediately," Biden said. "Once the American public realizes that ... [legislators are] going to be rewarded."

Exclusive ABC News video of VP Joe Biden.
Exclusive: Vice President Joe Biden on 2010, Health Care Reform

A 36-year veteran of the Senate, Biden said he was sympathetic to the position some lawmakers are now in.

"I really, truly believe that the worst place to be, as a legislator, is being in the position where your side is being pummeled for an idea and there's misrepresentations about all the bad things the idea is going to generate," Biden said.

His advice to wavering members of Congress who have put in work on this legislation is: "If you really want to make sure that you get the benefit of what you've already done, vote for the bill."

While four major deadlines have come and gone on health care reform, Biden said it's not a reflection of public appetite for the bill, but rather Republican antagonism.

Video of President Obama urging Congress to vote for health reform.
President Obama: Health Care Reform Is a Prescription for Deficit

"This has been tough from day one. It's been tough for 40 years," he said. "Republicans have been very skillful in using legitimately every tactic in the book -- legitimate tactic -- every procedural way to slow down the process to prevent an up-and-down vote. And we're getting close. They're running out of runway."

To the vice president, news that President Obama cancelled his trip to Indonesia and Australia next week is not another missed deadline or an ominous sign for the prospects of the bill on Capitol Hill.

"What it symbolizes is the president of the United States thinks this is an incredibly important initiative and he should be in the country, in the States, when, in fact, the Congress votes on it," Biden said.

VIDEO: Fighting for Health Care Votes
World News (3.17.10)

Biden: Israel Announcement Designed to 'Undermine' Peace Process

While jobs and health care took the political center stage today, Biden also was briefed by State Department official Dennis Ross on the Middle East.

Biden said the United States and Israel need to "get over" the latest flare-up in tensions and insisted that the essential elements of the relationship between the two nations remain the same.

"Israel's security is undeniably in our interest to make sure it is absolutely secure," the vice president said.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...