WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an interview yesterday on the left-of-center Ed Schultz Show, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., stood up for controversial comments that Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida made on the House floor Tuesday night. At one point, Democrat Grayson said: “If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly.”
Ellison told Schultz: “Let me tell you, I think Alan is always to the point. Alan always makes a lot of sense. I‘m not surprised at all that he really did hit the nail on the head.”
Republicans have decried Grayson’s comments. In the wake of Republican Rep. Joe Wilson’s recent apology for his outburst during the President Obama’s address to Congress, Republicans have called on Grayson to offer his own apology.
Grayson, however, has refused to do so, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has essentially said that the matter is a non-issue.
Democrats have also pointed out that Republicans have made similar comments.
This summer, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, a Republican from Florida, said: “…Democrats released a health care bill which essentially said to America’s seniors: ‘Drop dead.’”
In the interview, Ellison also said that the pressure is still on to have a government-run public option ultimately included in the health-care reform legislation. The Senate Finance Committee recently rejected two amendments that would have instituted such a plan.
“Let me tell you, the fact is we have well enough people to pass a public option,” Ellison said. “In fact, we don‘t have enough people to pass the bill unless it contains a public option. I feel very confident that that’s what we‘re going to see.”
Earlier this summer, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., indicated that there was not enough support in the Senate for a public option.
Here is a transcript from Ellison’s interview:
SCHULTZ: Joining me now is Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota. Keith, good to have you with us. Good to see you at the Congressional Black Caucus the other day. This was the issue, the lies being thrown out there by the Republicans. What‘s the mood on the Hill right now, as we move forward in the wake of this Senate Finance Committee vote? What‘s the mood?
ELLISON: Determination. I can tell you that those of us in the House who know that a public option is what the American people need, and they said so in poll after poll after poll, and doctors have said so—we‘re committed to make sure the American people get what they want.
SCHULTZ: So what is Eric Cantor‘s strategy here? Just to throw it out there and see how many people are going to believe him?
ELLISON: You have to say something. It‘s his job to come up with a sound bite. That‘s the best he could do. He‘s the one detached from reality. He‘s the up in the stratosphere.
You know what? If the Republicans want to oppose reform and health care, let them. The fact is there‘s a majority in the House and Senate who are going to pass this bill, and the White House is there, too. This is going to happen. Ed, you getting the word out to the American people on who stands with them is critically important. So thank you for that.
SCHULTZ: Well, thank you. But you‘re getting some help there on the House floor. Last night, Alan Grayson made a pretty interesting comment. I‘ve gotten a lot of e-mail on this today. There are a lot of lefties across the country that are saying it‘s about time somebody on the House floor stood up. Do you agree with what he said?
ELLISON: Let me tell you, I think Alan is always to the point. Alan always makes a lot of sense. I‘m not surprised at all that he really did hit the nail on the head.
SCHULTZ: He hit the nail on the head. I think he was trying to point out that the Republicans have nothing on the table. Quickly, with the situation in the Senate, might not have a public option, how much pressure is this going to be putting on you folks in the House to get this thing done?
ELLISON: It‘s going to put a lot of pressure, but we are up to it. Let me tell you, the fact is we have well enough people to pass a public option. In fact, we don‘t have enough people to pass the bill unless it contains a public option. I feel very confident that that‘s what we‘re going to see.
SCHULTZ: A more serious note, Congressman, Brett Favre and the Vikings, next Monday night against the Packers.
ELLISON: Sweet revenge. Ten seconds on the clock.
SCHULTZ: Good to see you. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Congressman with us.