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Long Overdue Pushback Arrives in Senate

The Senate still requires that Bills and Amendments be read on the floor. This requirement is almost always dispensed with via the Unanimous Consent of the chamber.

Having been flooded with legislation and amendments which no one could possibly read in the time between introduction and vote, that unanimous consent is now in short supply:

Coburn fires warning shot across Senate Democrats' bow;
DeMint threatens to do the same to entire bill

by Ed Morrissey
HotAir.com

Earlier today, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced an amendment to the Reid version of ObamaCare that would have established a single-payer health-care system in the US. No one expected this to go anywhere; in fact, most people shrugged at its introduction as simply a sop, especially since the public option and Medicare buy-in couldn’t get 60 votes, let alone an explicit single-payer system. However, Tom Coburn made it into news by following through on a warning from last month, as Philip Klein reports:

Sen. Tom Coburn has just demanded that the Senate clerk read the single-payer amendment offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders — and it’s 767 pages.

Typically, Senators offering amendments will ask for unanimous consent to avoid reading the entire meausure, but all it takes is one Senator to object to demand its reading, and Coburn objected to Sanders attempt to dispense with the reading of the amendment.

The boss is delighted:

This is transparency in action.

The Senate's chief socialist, Bernie Sanders, offered a single-payer health care amendment. It would open Medicare to all regardless of age, income, etc., and would be paid through higher income taxes. The normal procedure on the Senate floor would have been to dispense with the reading of the amendment. But "to alert taxpayers to this latest Washington scheme to take away your health care decisions," Senator Coburn's office writes, Sen. Coburn demanded that the full text of the 767 page Sanders amendment be read by the Senate clerk. …

Big Nanny dreams and schemes laid bare.

It took eighteen minutes just to get through the table of contents … for an amendment. Philip says the pace picked up a bit afterward, and the entire amendment could be read within about 12 hours. That’s twelve hours of floor time, assuming Coburn keeps withholding unanimous consent.

What does this do? It makes a hash out of Harry Reid’s plan to move the bill through the Senate by Christmas. Twelve hours of floor time for just a single amendment means that no other business can be conducted until at least Friday. Coburn apparently launched this effort in response to an attempt by Reid to shove the bill to a cloture vote without giving everyone enough time to read the bill or peruse the CBO analysis, due this week.

It’s a reminder that even with a supermajority, Reid needs to work with the minority to keep momentum. He can’t pull a Nancy Pelosi jamdown in the upper chamber, and any further attempts will mean weeks of bill reading as the legislation effectively filibusters itself.

Exit Question: Why wasn't this done weeks ago?


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Comments (19)

Because there were members ... (Below threshold)
Hermie:

Because there were members of the GOP 'Leadership' who were still playing by the same rules which lost them the majority in 2008.

Final-freakin-ly!M... (Below threshold)
JustRuss IT1(SW) USN [retired]:

Final-freakin-ly!

Maybe if they are forced to listen to (if not read) these things they will make them smaller and less complicated. Why is it that 19 pages created this country but we need 800 page AMENDMENTS to 2000 page bills to do things now days?

The democrats have a choice, pass the "Read the Bills" act forcing them to read things in their entirety (not staffers) before they are allowed to vote on them so they canbe held accountable.
OR
They can get stopped on ever piece of legislation they try to introduce and forced to listen to it.

Not that I wouldn't still insist on a reading to make SURE everyone knew, especially on bills that are opposed by large swaths of the country.

Also: I hear he is trying to withdraw the bill rather than have it read. Not sure what the procedurs are for that.

This bill was pulled down b... (Below threshold)
Stan25:

This bill was pulled down by Bernie Sanders, after three hours of reading of it by the clerk. Sanders was not a very happy camper when Coburn asked the the amendment be read. While 12 hours was an estimate, the actual reading would have taken between 18 to 22 hours to read the entire 767 pages of the amendment. The Republicans should demand that of their amendments too. This would put even more of a delay in a monstrosity that will be huge financial burden on all taxpayers, young and old.

"Why wasn't this done weeks... (Below threshold)
OLDPUPPYMAX:

"Why wasn't this done weeks ago?" Well why wasn't it done a year ago when the massive stimulus fraud was perpetrated? The reason--republicans are limp-wristed, spineless swine hardly different from the leftist democrat scum which rules the body. Each of these arrogant, self-important criminals is interested in nothing but power, wealth and perpetual re-election. Therefore the "wink-and-a-nod" school of legislative conduct is always in effect. Let the dems rule for a while and steal the bug bucks and republicans will be permitted to steal with both hands when their turn comes around. Next question!

Just print up 500,000 copie... (Below threshold)
914:

Just print up 500,000 copies of War and Peace and alter one word on each and present it as an amendment that needs to be read fully a half million times. That shoud get us to 2012 in no time and may knock off a few of these jurassaic geriatrics along the way.

A combination of Stan25 & 9... (Below threshold)

A combination of Stan25 & 914's idea could put an indefinite delay on this nightmare. They could take the Republican ideas for reform, inflate it with political blabbity blah (like when you have to write a paper and have five pages of ideas and need to pad it to 25 pages), offer it as an amendment, then force each other to read it. A few minor changes at each go around and they could do this forever.

Really don't think you can ... (Below threshold)
Cstmbuild:

Really don't think you can paint Coburn with that brush.
Great Oklahoman, who believes as the vast majority of us Okies do. Big government is a bad thing. Unfortunately, Coburn promised not to seek re-election and has keep his word each time. (State offices)

Remember, forcing bills and... (Below threshold)
Matt:

Remember, forcing bills and amendments to be reqad, page by page, works both ways. It can be used against republicans in the future as well as democrats now.

I think Coburn might of waited for the right moment to make the play. The bill is already on the ropes, so the timing was better than it would of been a few weeks ago. At this stage in the debate, instead of being a dirty trick, it can be passed as being vital to transparency.

Spine being displayed. Que... (Below threshold)

Spine being displayed. Quel surprise!

The sausage-making that it ... (Below threshold)
Carey:

The sausage-making that it took to buy enough votes to even think about this bill passing took its toll. This bill will never pass. Bad news for us conservatives. It gives the Democrats a club to beat us up with in the 2010 elections.

I seriously hope the current watered down piece of shit Senate bill would pass rather than have this issue re-emerge somewhere down the road but there is no chance of that happening.

"Remember, forcing bills... (Below threshold)
914:

"Remember, forcing bills and amendments to be read, page by page, works both ways. It can be used against republicans in the future as well as democrats now."

Yes, but it is worth future dumb downs to defeat this monstrosity in it's infancy and send the socialists assclowns wee wee weeing all the way to their private slushfunds courtesy of Us.

Hey' this is the only time ... (Below threshold)
914:

Hey' this is the only time ive ever agreed with abortion.

"Remember, forcing bills... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"Remember, forcing bills and amendments to be reqad, page by page, works both ways. It can be used against republicans in the future as well as democrats now."

You say that like it's a bad thing. When they're not passing bills and spending money is about the only time we can relax - no matter what side of the aisle they're on.

I seriously hope t... (Below threshold)
Stan25:
I seriously hope the current watered down piece of shit Senate bill would pass rather than have this issue re-emerge somewhere down the road but there is no chance of that happening.

If this bill does not pass, it will be years before it is attempted again. The reason why? The Dems will not be in the positions of power for some time to come. We are watching the extinction of the Democrat Party as a major party. Sure there will be Democrats, but they will be relegated to small contingent in the House and Senate -- maybe one or two at the most. The same number of independents that are currently in the Congress. Don't know what kind of makeup the Congress will be in the future, but things will prove to very interesting.

"Remember, forcing bills an... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"Remember, forcing bills and amendments to be reqad, page by page, works both ways. It can be used against republicans in the future as well as democrats now."

I sure hope so.
Nobody should get a free ride, no matter what party they are.


Also, I think this thing wasn't tried earlier because it is a kind of last-ditch-effort.
You can't use this tactic every single time or else you will lose public support eventually or the Dems will come up with some b.s. parliamentary trick to stop it. (or so the thinking goes)

I don't know if I agree with that thinking 100%, but I am glad they used the tactic in this case. Anything to stop this monstrosity.

It ain't over yet. Keep pressure on Congress. Keep attending rallies. Keep attending Tea Parties.

For more info on Tom Coburn... (Below threshold)
Burt:

For more info on Tom Coburn, find utubes of his biweekly show: The Senate Doctors. He costars with Sen John Barasso (R,WY) they have some real common sense points about the machinations of this fiasco. They even accept questions from their listeners.

httpcolon//republicandotsenatedotgov/doctors/

When they're not passing... (Below threshold)
Clay:

When they're not passing bills and spending money is about the only time we can relax - no matter what side of the aisle they're on.

Amen! I believe the Founders were brilliant in that they devised a form of government that made it cumbersome for politicians to accomplish too much. Unfortunately, said politicians have also been ingenious in devising new ways to circumvent this magnificent system.

les nessman "It ain't ... (Below threshold)
Marc:

les nessman "It ain't over yet."

Exactly it ain't over, by a long shot.

These assholes will pass something, anything whether it be now or after the first of the year they WILL pass a health care bill.

They ALL know once the foots in the door the road to single payer is paved with taxpayers gold.

There's a reason why obama's polls are at historic lows and why congress' are at mid twenties and below... they are all fuckwits.

Dear Secret Admirer,<... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

Dear Secret Admirer,

I do so look forward to your negative vote for each and every comment I make, but I must insist that when someone quotes me and agrees you must also give them a negative vote. This lack of consistency on your part will not be tolerated.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter,

Oyster

P.S. Clay, I hope you don't mind a negative vote should my admirer decide to comply with my request.




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