Brow Beat

Al Franken Tells Stephen Colbert Why He’s Optimistic About a Bipartisan Solution to Health Care

Stephen Colbert and Minnesota senator Sen. Al Franken go way back—back to Franken’s days at Saturday Night Live, in fact. But just because Franken is now involved in politics doesn’t mean he’s forgotten his roots. “What you’re doing here is so important,” Franken told Colbert. “I don’t want you for a moment to think that what you do here every night is any less important than what I do. Even though it is less important.”

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Colbert quickly turned the conversation to health care: “Let’s talk about what you guys do—or don’t do—over at the Senate.”

“There’s a lot of ‘don’t doing’ and sometimes the ‘don’t doing’ is good.” Franken was referring to the failure of Senate Republicans to pass their “skinny repeal” of Obamacare. The senator described to Colbert what it was like being in the room when John McCain cast his surprise vote killing the bill, explaining that he knew something was up when Vice President Mike Pence left the room. “We didn’t want to gloat, and we shouldn’t gloat,” he said. “This is serious, serious stuff.”

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Franken says the next step is to improve on Obamacare and reduce pharmaceutical costs with the help of Republicans in Congress. “What I hope we do is work in a bipartisan way to shore up the exchanges and weaknesses in the Affordable Care Act,” said Franken. “In my time in the Senate [we] have done many bipartisan things on education and other things. I like working with my Republican colleagues.”

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Franken also talked about his new book, Al Franken: Giant of the Senate, and which of his colleagues have good senses of humor. South Carolina’s Lindsay Graham? Sure. Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn, also known as “Dr. No”? Not so much—and it almost got Franken into trouble.

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