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House to Vote On Health Bill; New Details About Ft. Hood Gunman
Aired November 7, 2009 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon.
We are watching the buzz live on Capitol Hill tonight in a rare Saturday night session. Right now, debate is raging in the House on a bill to expand health care coverage to millions of Americans who don't now have it. A final vote is expected anytime this evening.
A Democratic-backed proposal is so important to the White House that President Obama personally went to the Hill today to push for passage. Now, back at the White House, he went before TV cameras to explain that the bill doesn't need to be perfect to have a positive impact on the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No bill could ever contain everything that everybody wants or please every constituency and every district. That's an impossible task. But what is possible, what's in our grasp right now, is the chance to prevent a future where every day, 14,000 Americans continue to lose their health insurance and every year, 18,000 Americans die because they don't have it; a future where crushing cost keeps small businesses from succeeding and big businesses from competing in the global economy; a future where countless dreams are differed or scaled back because of a broken system we could have fixed when we had the chance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Again, we're standing by watching this live for you as it unfolds and a vote, again, expected at any moment now. CNN is the only place you need to be for all the latest on this coverage. In a moment, I'll talk with Michael Steele -- he's the chairman of the Republican Party -- about all this, a party united in its opposition to the bill before the House tonight.
Our congressional correspondent Brianna Keilar is on Capitol Hill where Democrats are trying to nail down at least 218 votes -- remember that -- 218 votes. And Elaine Quijano is at her post at the White House where the president has a lot riding on tonight's vote.
Brianna, we're going to start with you. What are you hearing right now as we look at these live pictures on the House floor?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, this vote is certainly going to be close. Now, you said it, Democrats need 218 votes. Of course, they have a big majority in the House of Representatives, 258 Democrats in the House. They need 218 Democrats to stay on board with them -- Democratic leaders do -- because they're certainly not relying on any report from Republicans on this.
And what we know is that a high number of conservative Democrats have either announced publicly or told CNN that they are going to vote no. Some of them have concerns about just the cost of this bill, over $1 trillion. Some of them have concerns about government involvement in health care, among other concerns. And so, at this hour, debate continuing between Democrats and Republicans on this health care bill.
I just spoke with Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she walked from her office to the floor. And she said she is expecting they will pass health care tonight. She said that is her anticipation. Then she went on the floor and said this...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: For generations, the American people have called for affordable, quality health care for their families. Today, the call will be answered. Today, we will pass them Affordable Health Care for America Act. This legislation is founded on key principles for a healthier America, innovation, competition and prevention. It improves quality, lowers cost, expands coverage to 36 million more people, and retains choices.
REP. TOM PRICE (R), GEORGIA: This bill is an affront on the moral -- morality of the provision of American health care. As a physician, when patients and their families and their doctors are not allowed to independently decide what care should be provided, we lose more than our health care system. We lose our morality and we lose our freedom. This bill, whether known or not, is an oppressive affront to every single American.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KEILAR: So, that staunch opposition from Republicans, Democrats have to look within their own ranks. It certainly is tough. Democratic leaders are actually, Don, keeping a list of those undecided Democrats, as you can expect.
But just something that gives you a sense of how tricky this is for them, we understand from one aide -- we've heard this from an aide -- that Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, he's the number three Democrat in the House, he is the whip, it is his job to figure out exactly where Democrats are going to come down on this vote, he took that list of undecided Democrats and told his staff, "I know where to find some of these guys," and actually marched off Capitol Hill to a nearby restaurant to pin them down.
LEMON: Boy, oh, boy. It's all going down on Capitol Hill. Hey, Brianna, and you have a front row seat to it. So, sit by -- stand by, Brianna, because we may be getting back to you.
KEILAR: Sure will.
LEMON: It could happen at any moment. It could be within a couple of hours. But we'll be here and Brianna will be watching it for you as well. You know, and so will someone who I know will be watching this as well.
Republicans may be outnumbered in Congress but they are far from silent on this issue. Earlier today, they held a news conference on Capitol Hill to denounce the Democratic plan.
So, we want to -- before we go to that, I'm going to tell you that Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, is going to join us in just a moment. But before we go to him, let's go to Elaine at the White House.
Elaine, as we said, Republicans are united in their opposition to this. Before we speak to Michael Steele, I want to talk to you to find out what you're hearing from the White House, really about the mood because as we said earlier, the president came out today and spoke in the Rose Garden. Some said it was premature, possibly premature.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it depends on the beholder, I suppose, and it depends on how this final vote goes, obviously, at the end of the day here.
But we heard from President Obama himself. We know the political stakes are, of course, sky-high for him on this issue. The president, of course, has made health care reform his number one domestic priority. And that is why we saw him make this rare Saturday appearance, pressing lawmakers in person on this issue of health care reform. Later, in the Rose Garden, we did hear from the president himself.
He tried to really cast this issue in historic terms. And he said that this year, the House and the Senate have made more progress when it comes to health care than any of their predecessors. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: For the first time ever, they've passed bills through every single committee responsible for reform. They've brought us closer than we have ever been to passing health insurance reform on behalf of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUIJANO: And so, basically the president's message: now is the time to finish the job. That's what he told House Democrats behind closed doors. He said that opportunities like this, Don, come around maybe once in a generation. And he obviously urged his fellow Democrats to seize this opportunity -- Don.
LEMON: All right. Elaine Quijano standing by; our Brianna Keilar standing by. Thank you, Elaine. Very much appreciate it. We'll get back to you if something happens within the next couple of minutes and within this hour.
And as I said, Brianna Keilar standing by as well on Capitol Hill.
And, again, coming up in just a moment, the Republican chair -- chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, is going to join us by telephone. Of course, Republicans are united in their opposition. I want to hear what the chairman has to say about this. He's going to join us here on CNN in just a little while.
In the meantime, we will continue to follow this debate and when it comes to a vote, we'll bring it to you live right here on CNN. So, stand by.
The victims of Thursday's shooting spree at Fort Hood -- just released the names of all who died. They did it there. We'll share them with you.
And the alleged gunman, Major Nidal Malik Hasan -- his relationships with neighbors, and the days leading up to the shooting. They're talking to CNN.
And, of course, we want your comments. And that's how you give them to us, right there on your screen.
LEMON: All right. Let's get right to it. A vote expected at any moment now. And we said he's going to join us and let's get right to him. Republican -- national chair of the Republican National Committee, the Chairman Michael Steele.
How are you doing tonight, sir?
MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN (via telephone): I'm great, Don. How are you doing?
LEMON: Good, great. Hey, I'm doing well. Good to talk to you. Good to talk to you.
STEELE: Good to talk to you again.
LEMON: How are you feeling on -- about this looming vote?
STEELE: Well, you know, I'm very disappointed. I -- this -- you know, I think that this process has been one that's been rushed. We have the House now, you know, considering voting on a bill that's raised taxes, you know, cuts Medicare, puts government bureaucrats between doctors and patients. And I just don't think this is what the American people wanted. We've heard time and again, people speaking out about the kind of health care they want.
Republicans have put several alternatives before the House and they've rejected them every time. They -- I mean, they won't even --- didn't post this bill like the president said they would do 72 hours so the American people will take a look at the 2,000-page monstrosity they call the health care bill.
And so, here we are in this 11th hour in the dead of night passing a health care bill with, you know -- and they're scrambling to get the votes.
LEMON: So, here's the thing -- I think don't think that -- I think everyone is on the same page with this. Most Americans want health care reform of some sort.
STEELE: That's true.
LEMON: Yes. OK. So, why not start here, Mr. Steele? Why not start with something...
STEELE: Why not start with overhauling the entire system when we know...
LEMON: Let me, I just want to ask you this, here -- this is what people say: why not start with something and then tweak it along?
STEELE: Oh, Lord, have mercy. Have you ever seen the government tweak something along the way? I mean, you know, they've been tweaking Amtrak for 30 years and they still can't get it right. They've been tweaking Medicare and Medicaid for the last 10, 15 years, and they're still going bankrupt.
I mean, the government can't tweak anything. That's the problem. They create bureaucracies and compound the problem first created -- by creating more bureaucracies.
When you look at this bill -- this is one of those bills that takes a system that is the best in the world and will turn it on its head. And I don't believe that's what the American people want. If you want -- if you want to deal with health care, then let's put a bill in for portability. Let's do tort reform.
STEELE: Let's do those types of things. To do this mammoth overhaul, 2,000-plus pages, to me just doesn't make any sense and I know it doesn't make sense to a vast majority of the Americans out there.
LEMON: OK. Let me -- let me say this, and I'll have to give you that on -- you know government better than I do. I'm not a politico. I'm not a politician, right? I just ask the questions here.
But when you say the best in the world, there are many people who would disagree with that. When you consider that we are the richest nation in the world and there are many millions of our people who don't have health care at all...
STEELE: This is true.
LEMON: ... and a nation that can well afford that, how can you say that it's the best in the world?
STEELE: So, let me ask you a question, Don. When you get sick, do you get on a plane and go to France for your health care? LEMON: It depends on what...
STEELE: Do you catch the train to Canada?
LEMON: You know, I can't answer that. But let me tell you this...
STEELE: You can't answer that?
LEMON: I have not -- I have not been in that position, so I can't -- I cannot answer that. So...
STEELE: No, but I'm just saying, when you get sick -- I mean, that's the point. I mean, and when you've got people coming to this country to access its health care system, that tells you something about the quality of the health care that we provide. Now, it doesn't mean that we need to fix certain aspects of it with respect to cost.
STEELE: That we need to try to get the 12 million or so people who are -- who are very much caught in the crosshairs because of the way the system is currently designed to not allow them access, full access to the system -- yes. But for those 80 percent or more of Americans who are satisfied with the quality, who can get the access -- you may have an issue with cost...
STEELE: ... I don't think this overhaul that's right now before the Congress is the bill that they want.
LEMON: You know, I think we do have, you know, at least the quality here, for the most part. And there are -- you know, there are exceptions to every rule, right? The quality here is very good. We have excellent quality, if you can afford it. But just because something is expensive, Mr. Steele, doesn't necessarily mean that it is the best and that is good.
STEELE: I mean, you know, excuse me. I mean, that's part of the problem that we've been dealing with here, is the cost factor. And so, yes, I'm not going to make an equation between cost and quality.
But the quality is there. The research and development that goes into our health care system is there. And so, for patients who need to access this system, that quality, whether you can afford it or not, is there. We don't turn people out on the streets when they show up at emergency rooms for care. Doctors still cover their patients even though in many cases -- particularly the elderly -- they can't necessarily afford all the treatment that that doctor is providing them.
So, you know, the fix that we're looking to put in place fills -- addresses defensive medicine, allows for portability so people don't get caught between one job and another, or moving from one location to another in the country. There are little steps that can be taken that I think will get us on the road to an even better, more improved health care system than the one that we have before us right now in this bill that Nancy Pelosi is pushing on the American people.
LEMON: Hey, Chairman Steele, my producer is telling me we have to go. But hang on, I think this is a very good conversation and to have you just moments before this vote, I think, is very important. So, hang on, Tom. I'm going to spend a little bit more time with the chairman. So, let's work out to talk here.
So, Chairman, you know, as -- you know, as we say, we're just a couple of minutes before the vote here. I want to know what happens next for the party, your party, if this -- if the Democrats do indeed get 218 votes.
And another question for you, some of the folks in social media, we have been talking about this -- some people say, you know, because of the opposition to health care, right, here's one person, Chairman Steele, that says, "The Republicans will continue to be the party of no. They will use any excuse not to move and take money from special interest."
How do you respond to those types of things?
STEELE: Oh, please. That's a worn-out Democrat talking point. Don, I'm so sick, I'm so past that. I mean, I appreciate the talking point, whoever sent that in. We're so past that.
Republicans in the House alone introduced over 800 pieces of legislation and amendments to bills. They weren't even allowed to necessarily -- they weren't allowed to amend this bill. And, now, you know, we've got the abortion language finally carved in because Nancy Pelosi realized she was about to have the bill implode on her. But this is the trap here.
Where's the guarantee that when they get to conference, this Stupak language, the amendment won't be stripped out of the bill? There's no guarantee here. And Nancy Pelosi is standing up in the well of the Congress talking about, you know, this bill is affordable and it's going to provide quality health care. It's a ruse because there are no guarantees of that. You're creating a government-run system.
And the reality of it is, we've put the legislation out there, we've put amendments out there. We've fought and fought for, time and time again, for tort reform. Why is there no tort reform in the bill? Why is -- you know, we've got the portability piece in. What about HSAs, health savings accounts? What about the ability for small business pools so small businesses can go into the insurance market and make insurance companies compete for the premiums that these companies are going to pay for their employees?
LEMON: And the question...
STEELE: There are a lot of things that can be done that we have already suggested time and time again. So, I'm a little bit, you know, worn out with this, oh, the party of no stuff.
LEMON: OK. STEELE: The reality of it is, we're watching a wholesale take over of 1/6 of our nation's economy in the dead of a Saturday night. And the American people, I hope, are watching. To the first question, those votes that are cast tonight, those individuals, they go back home, they better be prepared to be accountable for those votes.
LEMON: I'm glad you remember the question, I was just about to ask you again. Very astute interviewee. Hey, listen, thank you.
STEELE: All right, buddy.
LEMON: And we got to ask the questions here. And let -- you know, we're going to be on the air, if you'll call back after the vote, we'd love to talk with you.
STEELE: I'll see if I can do that. Absolutely.
LEMON: All right. Thank you.
STEELE: I appreciate it.
LEMON: All right. Thank you very much.
STEELE: Taking down a suspected cop killer. The ironic twist behind the man police say took the life of an officer in Seattle.
We're back in a moment.
LEMON: You know, remembering the 13 soldiers cut down at Fort Hood, allegedly at the hands of one of their own. We learn their names just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lieutenant Colonel Juanita L. Warman, 55, of Havre de Grace, Maryland; Major Libardo Caraveo, 52, of Woodbridge, Virginia; Captain John P. Gaffaney, 54, of San Diego, California; Captain Russell Seager, 41, of Racine, Wisconsin; Chief Warrant Officer, retired, Michael Cahill of Cameron, Texas; Staff Sergeant Justin Decrow, 32, of Plymouth, Indiana; Sergeant Amy Krueger, 29, of Kiel, Wisconsin; Specialist Jason Hunt, 22, of Tillman, Oklahoma; Specialist Frederick Green, 29, of Mountain City, Tennessee; Specialist Kham Xiong, 23, of St. Paul, Minnesota; Pfc. Aaron Nemelka, 19, of West Jordan, Utah; Pfc. Michael Pearson, 22, of Bolingbrook, Illinois; Private Francheska Velez, 21, of Chicago, Illinois.
These heroes are so much more than simply names and I'd ask that we all take a moment to remember them all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: You know, they're out of the woods. That's how a surgeon describes a condition of some survives of the Fort Hood shooting spree. And we have learned that former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, the former first lady, visited with some of the survivors earlier today.
Meantime, a memorial service for the victims is set for Tuesday. And President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will be there, along with other high-ranking members of the military and the Fort Hood community.
And we're learning more about Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the man accused of opening fire on his fellow soldiers. We're going to go now to CNN's Ted Rowlands. He is at Fort Hood for us tonight with this report.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Clues about why 39- year-old Army psychiatrist, Nidal Hasan, allegedly went on a shooting rampage may be uncovered from his computer. At 2:37 Thursday morning, 11 hours before the massacre, Hasan called his next door neighbor, Willie Bell, and left him a message asking him to turn on his wireless computer connection. Bell ignored the call, but three hours later, he says Hasan called back.
WILLIE BELL, NIDAL HASAN'S NEIGHBOR: He said, "Would you please hook up your laptop?" And I said, "Wow, he wants me to hook up the laptop." So my girlfriend got up and hooked up the laptop. But we didn't answer the phone, he just left a message.
ROWLANDS: Bell also says, two weeks before the massacre, Hasan locked Bell out of his own wireless connection by changing passwords.
BELL: For the last two weeks, I couldn't even get on the Internet myself because I had to go through some kind of code he had dialed in there. And I don't know what he dialed in there, but I couldn't get on it.
ROWLANDS: Bell says he surrendered his own computer to investigators. He says he was also questioned for four hours.
Investigators won't comment on whether they've located all of the computers Hasan used. He gave away these computer cases and the rest of his furniture to another neighbor, Patricia Villa. But the only thing inside the computer bags, Villa says, were a few of Hasan's business cards.
At 6:30 a.m., the morning of the shooting, Hasan was seen on this surveillance video at a 7-eleven, buying coffee and hash browns. Later, he was back at the apartment complex.
This man, Miguel Rivera, says he saw Hasan throwing things into this dumpster. Investigators hauled the dumpster away Friday morning.
Another potential source of information may be a man that neighbors saw visiting Hasan the day before the rampage. Alice Thompson was inside her apartment when she says she saw Hasan and the other man. Unusual, she says, because he never seemed to have anyone over. She described the other man as wearing Muslim attire with dark skin and bushy eyebrows, and claims investigators seemed interested in him when she was questioned.
ALICE THOMPSON, NADAL HASAN'S NEIGHBOR: They said, "If you see him again, can you identify him?" I said, "Yes."
ROWLANDS: Answers could also, of course, come from Hasan himself. He remains in critical condition at an army hospital in San Antonio.
LEMON: Our Ted Rowlands -- there he is -- live tonight in Texas.
Ted, you know, I can only imagine being those people -- that man's neighbors. A fascinating report there.
Here's what I want to ask about investigators. Have they ruled out the possibility that Hasan had any help in this?
ROWLANDS: No, they haven't. Not publicly. We are expecting a news conference in the next hour, Don, and that will be one of the questions, obviously, that's asked.
He's using the computer, obviously, when you talk to his neighbors. Who's he talking to? Is he or had -- did he tell anybody that he was going to possibly do this, confide in anybody, or was he getting support from anybody or any organization? Those are questions everybody has.
Hopefully, we'll get some answers in the next hour or in the coming days. But clearly, that's something that has not been said publicly that they've ruled it out at least yet.
LEMON: And so, Ted, you know, you mentioned using his neighbor's computer. Why did he use his neighbor's computer?
ROWLANDS: Well, that's a good question. Why did he, at one point, lock his neighbor out on the Internet connection? He'd not only used his neighbor's Wi-Fi connection but he also actually used his laptop on a couple of occasions, which is very curious, a major in the Army has access to a computer not only here at Fort Hood but also his own personal computer.
So, why would he use someone else's? One could think maybe to post these things that have been allegedly attributed to him or other things to other forms of communication. He changed some passwords with that Wi-Fi.
A lot of curious stuff, and, hopefully, we'll get some answers. And, hopefully, the investigators have that computer, because, of course, if they do, the FBI specifically, their experts -- they can pretty much find out anything this guy did on that computer.
LEMON: Did you say within the hour, top of the hour? When's the press conference, again?
ROWLANDS: Top of the hour it begins, yes.
LEMON: Top of the hour.
ROWLAND: It's scheduled to begin.
LEMON: We'll be standing by. Thank you very much. Report back to us.
Our Ted Rowlands standing by in Fort Hood, Texas -- we appreciate it.
Just one day after the Fort Hood shooting, our Campbell Brown talked with a Fort Hood Army medic about how fellow soldiers are processing what happened to their comrades. I want you to take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CNN'S CAMPBELL BROWN)
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN HOST: Talk to me a little bit about how folks down there are doing. I mean, just going -- I know you guys are trained for this kind of thing, but it is certainly not something you expect to have happen there at home, at Fort Hood, which is supposed to be your place of safety. I mean, are people just stunned? Are they coping OK?
SPC. FRANCISCO DE LA SERNA, U.S. ARMY MEDIC: Yes, everyone's very, you know, shocked. No one expects this kind of thing to happen back home. The whole time you're deployed in Iraq, you're ready for it. You train for it. You expect it to happen.
But when you come back here and something like this happens, it's just shocking. Nobody really knows what -- you know, what to say or exactly what went on yesterday. It's hard to say, you know, why he did it or, you know, how everyone feels about it. But I just know everyone feels pretty bad about losing so many fellow service members.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: You know, the full resources of CNN, we have placed on this, we have teams there on the ground and all over the country digging on this particular story.
So, I want you to join me tonight at the top of the hour, that's at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, just about 30 minutes from now, when CNN goes "Inside the Ft. Hood Shootings." We'll uncover new details about Major Nidal Malik Hasan that you haven't heard before and we'll remember the 13 people who lost their lives. It is a CNN special investigation tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.
Divorce, bankruptcy and unemployment, an engineer accused of shooting a former co-worker and injuring five others was coping with all three of them. And after yesterday's rampage, Jason Rodriguez gave reporters a chilling explanation. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you do it? Why did you do it?
JASON RODRIGUEZ, ORLANDO SHOOTINGS SUSPECT: They left me to rot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They left you to rot. You're mad at your employers?
RODRIGUEZ: No -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who left you to rot?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Jason Rodriguez says his employers left him to rot. And Rodriguez was denied bail today during a two-minute court hearing. The accused murderer said his name and nothing else. His attorney says he simply crumbled under stress.
And that man being carried away by police officers that you see right there, is he a dedicated criminal justice professional or a domestic terrorist responsible for killing a police officer? Well, Seattle police are calling him the latter.
41-year-old Christopher Monfort is in serious condition tonight. shot yesterday as he tried to escape. As the S.W.A.T. team surrounds Monfort's apartment, his alleged victim was being memorialized. Officer Timothy Brenton was fatally shot in his patrol car on Halloween night. And now detectives are looking for connections between Brenton's murder and the fire bombings of three police cruisers and a mobile command unit.
"Saturday Night Live" on Capitol Hill, but this is no joking matter here. House members expected to vote anytime tonight on a long- awaited, much-anticipated health care reform bill. And we are waiting, standing by live. There you see them on the floor now debating that. The vote coming up soon.
LEMON: Right. So if you're just tuning into CNN, the House of Representatives is in the throes of vigorous debate over health care reform. You're looking at live pictures of the Capitol there and also live pictures of the House floor. They've been at it for hours in a rare Saturday session. At stake is a democrat-backed bill that needs 218 votes to pass. That vote is expected to come sometime tonight. Anytime, so make sure you stay right here on CNN.
Because we're going to bring it to you. The president even met privately today with democrats to make a final push to get everyone on board. And perhaps there would be more consensus in Congress on health care reform if Americans were not so divided on this issue.
Look at these numbers from a recent CNN Opinion Research Opinion poll. About one-quarter of those surveyed want Congress to pass legislation as is with a few changes. A third say congressional approval only should only come after major changes. A quarter say Congress should start over from scratch. And 15 percent say Congress should quit working on healthcare reform completely.
So let's bring in reporter Jonathan Allen of politico.com. Jonathan, you have been there for tonight's debate. You were in the gallery. Take us inside, sir. JONATHAN ALLEN, POLITICO.COM: Well, right now, what you've got is a lot of debate, general debate on the bill. We're going to hear a debate about an abortion amendment and various aspects. But really what's going on here isn't members of Congress trying to persuade each other but rather get their two, three minutes in some cases to talk about this bill and get those images back home to their constituents. Make the points that they want to make, sometimes on the topic of the bill, sometimes on side issues.
But that's really what they're doing right now is they're looking into the camera and they're talking to home.
LEMON: So they're using it as a platform, as you said to look - this is really or is this more about their constituents, then, are you saying than maybe about what's good for the folks? I don't want to put words in your mouth. But is it a little bit of a grandstanding?
ALLEN: Well, I think there's a tension between what members of Congress do representing the interests of their constituents within their district and sometimes within their own party, within their districts and what is good, perhaps, for the nation as a whole. And I think that's built in by the founding fathers.
So I don't want to impugn any of their motives in what they're doing other than to say that that tension exists and of course, they want to talk to the people back home about what they're doing, explain their votes. In the case of Democrats who are voting for it, to say why they're voting for it, why it's good. The case of Republicans, often to say why they think it's bad or isn't doing the right thing.
LEMON: As you were talking, I was looking at some of the social media, the feedback that I'm getting here. I just want to show you real quick. This one is from twitter -
Africa girl tweet says @donlemoncnn, "hey Don, name the Congress men and women who are not there. We need to know who is too chicken to vote, one way or another." Perhaps you can answer some of that for us. Is there anyone who's not there?
ALLEN: Everyone's here. An earlier vote in the House today showed 434 members voting. The one who didn't is Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Traditionally the speaker doesn't vote on minor votes but will occasionally weigh in on the big ones. Good chance she'll vote on final passage on this. But there is an interesting thing that might happen in terms of present votes on this abortion amendment, the Stupak amendment, that your listeners or your watchers have heard a lot about today.
There is a possibility that Republicans as a last wrinkle will vote present on this anti-abortion amendment to try to mess up the Democratic vote count because the Democrats have come up with an interesting multidimensional chest where they're going to add in an abortion limitation and then pass the whole bill. I still think that it's a limited of group of Republicans looking at that but that's a threat out there right now. And it's the only wrinkle I think at this point that could stop passage. LEMON: All right. Jonathan Allen of politico, really appreciate it. Thank you so much. I want to show our viewers to stand by because we're getting word that this is going to happen at any moment here. At least, we're thinking before 9:00 or 9:30, that's the guidance we're getting. But as you know, things are very fluid. So you want to stand by for that.
And our website, of course, is chock full of information on health care reform and what it means to you. Just logon, cnn.com/health. Again, CNN.com/health.
Muslims in the military, what does the shooting attack at Ft. Hood mean for them? Does it damage progress that's been made to accept them? We'll talk to a retired marine who is a Muslim.
LEMON: OK. Looking here at a statement that was just received to CNN from Nidal Hasan's brother and I want to read it to you right now. It says the statement is from Eyad Hasan.
He says "Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families who have lost loved ones and everyone else affected by the horrific events that transpired at Fort Hood. We are in a state of shock and disbelief over this dreadful news. I've known my brother Nidal to be a peaceful, loving and compassionate person who has shown great interest in the medical field and in helping others. He has never committed an act of violence and was always known to be a good, law-abiding citizen. And we have faith in our legal system and that my brother will be treated fairly.
We hope that the relevant authorities will provide us with information on my brother's condition and that he be afforded his right to an attorney the moment he regains consciousness." And again, this is from Eyad Hasan, the brother of Major Nidal Hasan. And again, he would not take any questions or requests. The family is asking for their privacy tonight. Again, that statement just coming in.
We want to remind you again, at the top of the hour, we're going inside this story with a CNN special investigation, inside the Ft. Hood shooting. This is sort of apropos to bring in our next guest. Let me read a little bit before - to give you some background before we bring him in. There are thousands of Muslims serving in the U.S. military. But some say they fear the massacre at Ft. Hood could destroy their efforts to be accepted as loyal, dedicated members of the Armed Forces.
And here is Qaseem Ali Uqdah is a retired marine and the executive director of the American Muslim Armed Forces and Veterans Affair Council. He joins us tonight from Washington. Thank you. I think the first question should be, what do you make of that statement? Does that help?
QASEEM ALI UQDAH, U.S. MARINE CORPS (RET.): It is somewhat accurate. I like to try and correct that there is potential backlash that could occur. However, given what I've been able to find from my various bases, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Knox, Kentucky, Lackland Air Force Base, it seems that the commanders have put in place steps to ensure that it does not occur.
LEMON: The backlash, you're talking about?
LEMON: As we talk about this and as we have been talking to our reporters and our producers on the scene and CNN has been doing some investigating here, there are members of the military who are Muslim, who have complained about being ridiculed because of being a Muslim, discriminated against and who say that it really has - not that this is an excuse.
Let me get that out, for what happened. But who are saying that it wasn't investigated, they believe, to the best of the military's ability. Do you agree with that? Was that your experience?
UQDAH: No. I would say each case, you have to go by its own merits. So to make a general statement saying that it wasn't investigated to the extent that it should have been, I would not agree. I give you a case in point that we had a Great Lakes naval base where a young sailor was assaulted by another sailor.
The command investigated it. They took the appropriate action. It was over with. Keep in mind, you have service members from various walks of life, various denominations or faith groups. So here you may have a situation where a Muslim had experienced negative aspersions. The same thing could happen to a Jewish soldier. The same thing could happen to a Christian soldier.
With respect to Muslims, yes, it does happen. What I found and not to over inflate this is that when it occurs and is brought to the command's attention, action has been taken, 99 percent of the time. Those times in which we found it has not been taken, we have stepped in and ensured that appropriate action has been taken.
LEMON: I'm letting you speak because I think what you're saying is very important, having been a member of the military and also a Muslim. Is there something to, you know, because a lot has been reported about Nidal Hasan's actions, what he possibly said before allegedly going into this rampage. Is there something that you want to talk to the American people about?
Because let's just be honest here, it is said that before he went on the rampage and again this has to be investigated that he screamed Allah Akbar. A lot of the people who were there, a number of people who were there on the scene have reported that. There are concerns that it may have been some sort of a terrorist event.
Are we jumping the gun here or do you think that this does more harm until it is fully investigated by saying these things and letting this out?
UQDAH: I think here, it's best that we allow the law enforcement to thoroughly investigate this. Whether he said Allah Akbar or not, that doesn't give any type of indication or make an indication that this was religiously based.
The issue, let's move away from him and focus on this was a criminal act that people are trying to draw in that this is Islam and Islam endorses this. And that's far from the case. Example, Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bombing, did we say anything about Christianity? Do we bring in the subject that this was a Christian who committed this heinous act? No. It was a criminal act and Timothy McVeigh was brought to justice. I think the same thing will occur here.
LEMON: Qaseem Uqdah, we really appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you so much. Best of luck to you. OK.
UQDAH: Thank you. Appreciate it.
And the rampage at Ft. Hood, Texas, stunned the nation and changed the lives of dozens of families forever. How could it happen? Make sure you join me at the top of the hour. We're taking you inside the Ft. Hood shootings. A CNN primetime special investigation straight ahead at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
All right. You know what, he has spent his career in the U.S. House of Representatives, more than 50 years, in fact. Fighting for health care reform may not be, you know, as popular on this because he's in the House as the late Ted Kennedy. But he has been fighting for this for a long time.
Up next, I'm going to talk with Michigan's John Dingell about the vote he is about to cast. There you go. You see him there. We're going to talk to him after the break.
LEMON: OK, listen. You know, a day of health care debate on Capitol Hill today. It is getting really close to a vote in the House. It kicked off with a bang of the gavel from Democratic Representative John Dingell. He is the longest serving House member and health care reform has been really a personal crusade of his since 1955. But you know, he's giving me a little bit of history lesson during the break because it started all the way back with his Dad, John Dingell Sr. back in 1932 for the new (INAUDIBLE).
I want to ask you, you know, I asked the reporter - Mr. Dingell, thanks for joining us tonight. How are you doing? Real quickly.
REP. JOHN DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: All things are well. And thank you.
LEMON: And thank you.
LEMON: So as a reporter earlier, to take us inside, take us inside, what is going on right now? How are you feeling? Are you feeling optimistic?
DINGELL: Well, first of all the debate is coming through a close. Second of all, I'm feeling very optimistic. And third of all, I anticipate that the House will pass the legislation tonight and that it will go to conference with the Senate as soon as the Senate completed its bill.
LEMON: The president said today that this will be a day to mark in history, history in the making. And this is, he believed by the time it was over, it would be history in the making because there will be a bill that is passed. You, you know, being one of the sponsors of this bill and a long time proponent of health care reform, what do you think of what the president said?
DINGELL: Well, I think this is a day which when we have completed it will rank with the enactment of social security. And I hope to be at the president's side when he signs it as my dad was in 1935 when the bill was signed at the White House by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It will be one of the greatest unmet social and one of the worst economic problems that the country confronts.
LEMON: OK. So, listen, what do you say to this, too much government control in this bill. Too expensive? Who is going to pay for it? How do you respond to that?
DINGELL: Real quick. First of all, it is going to be budget neutral. Second of all, it is not going to cost more than the current curious unworkable system which we have now. Last of all, it's going to give care and comfort and security to the American people in knowing that they will have decent understandable health insurance available to them.
The people who complained about the government control of the insurance companies are going to have to stop the unethical practices like using preexisting conditions to deny people health care or rescissions where they can cancel your health care while you are laying on a gurney getting ready to go into the operating room.
LEMON: Hey, Congressman Dingell. We got to run, but as we understand, and you confirmed for us, you say you are going to be the last one to vote on this. So let us know what happens. You should come back and talk to us afterwards. We would love to have you, OK?
DINGELL: I would love to do that. And I thank you.
LEMON: All right. Thank you very much. We really appreciate your time.
DINGELL: You bet.
LEMON: Congressman John Dingell joining us from the Capitol tonight.
Your Congress hard at work right now on a Saturday night. House members expected to vote on their version of health care reform. We are watching and we are waiting. Here we'll bring it to you live when it happens. There it is live. The House floor.
LEMON: All right, guys. There has been so much debate, so much consternation over the health care reform bill. There it is. The House floor. And it can happen at any moment now. The president came out today in the Rose Garden saying he believed history is going to be made tonight once this vote had been done.
Democrats need 218 votes to pass this bill out of the House. You heard John Dingell, Congressman John Dingell just a moment ago saying it is going to be history in the making as well. Very confident most of the Democrats are saying that they are very confident about it.
I spoke to Michael Steele live in this broadcast. He is the chairman of the Republican National Party, the GOP. He says at the last minute he believes that Democrats are pushing this bill down Americans' throats and he thinks that it's a hasty bill. So he does have his criticism. We spoke to him. He said he would call us back and talk to us after this.
Hey, you know what, why don't we listen here. Because we want to spend time some time with your feedback and trying to figure out - we thought this is going to happen soon.
Let's listen in just a little bit as to what is going on, to sort of prepare you for what you're going to hear later when we bring this to you live. Take a listen real quickly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the underlying bill to level the playing field for women and end discrimination against them in the health insurance market. This amendment adds a new discriminatory measure against women. Under this proposal, if a woman is of low or moderate income and receives tax credits to help her to afford the premiums for health insurance premiums she purchases on the exchange, she cannot choose a plan that covers abortion services.
And if she chooses the public option she cannot receive abortion coverage at all even if she receives no help of any kind and pays for the plan entirely by herself.
LEMON: All right. So that has been happening all day. And we've seen, you know, a lot of people bringing their kids up. It's been a very animated, interesting day here. Some of your tweets real quick.
Beachlife2 says "America needs nationalized health care. I am being denied access to care so where is my choice?" These I'm just reading. They're not up on the board yet. Ndj20000 (ph) says "the rep plan will not cover the uninsured and will not cut as much of the deficit as the Dem plan will do.
So I'm Don Lemon. I want to thank you for joining us tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. I want you to stick around for a CNN special investigation. It begins right now.