'This Week' Transcript: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

PELOSI: Well, I don't know what -- what the value of trying -- the president has tried since one year ago, March 5th. We met in Washington D.C. in a bipartisan way with some of the outside stakeholders to talk about working together to have health care accessible for all Americans. I smile because I remember Senator Kennedy coming into the room and saying, "I'm signing up as a foot soldier in the fight for health care reform." And, of course, he was such a tremendous leader.

But that was a year ago. Since then, we've had hundreds of hours of meetings, and hearings, and markups of bills -- well over a hundred Republican amendments are in this bill -- the -- the House and Senate bills, and what the president put forth. We'll see some of what was said yesterday. So those who were making constructive contributions can be accommodated.

Whether we get Republican votes or not, the bill definitely has bipartisan provisions in it. But if they have a good idea that works for the American people, whether they're going to vote for the bill or not, we want it in the bill.

VARGAS: How long are willing to wait for those ideas?

PELOSI: Well, we -- but that that happened yesterday. And so...

VARGAS: I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

VARGAS: ... the president seemed to made it clear that time's up.

PELOSI: Time's up, yes. So we really have to go forth, because as I said there, was we sit around this table, this big table in Blair House -- every night families sit around their kitchen table, try to figure out their finances, their -- the security of their jobs, the cost of their children's education, how they're going to pay their medical bills, what is the status of their pensions?

And they can't wait any longer. If -- you know, if your family has a pre-existing condition or if you are denied coverage or if you have a -- a rescission, if your insurance has been withdrawn just as you're about to need a procedure, you know that it's long overdue. And what's the point of talking about it any longer?

VARGAS: But the point is, when it does finally come to vote on it in the House, you're certain that you can muster the 217 votes that you need, even with the differences over abortion language, things -- that there are members of the House who voted in favor of it before, who are now saying, "We can't vote for this bill, because of the Senate language on abortion"?

PELOSI: Well, let me say I have this in three -- just so you know, how we sequence this. First, we zero in on what the policy will be, and that is what we'll be doing following the president's summit yesterday.

Secondly, we'll see what the Senate can do. What is the substance? What is the Senate prepared to do? And then we'll go to the third step as to what my -- my members will vote for.

But we have a very diverse party, but we all agree that the present system is unsustainable. It's unsustainable. It's unaffordable for families, for -- and individuals, for businesses, large-, small-, and moderate-sized businesses. It's unsustainable to our budget. We cannot afford the rising cost of -- of health care.

As the president has said, "Health care reform is entitlement reform." And it's unsustainable for our -- our economy. We want to be competitive. These health care costs are a competitiveness issue. They diminish the opportunities for our businesses domestically and internationally to compete without this anvil of health care costs around their necks.

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