Policy-ish

Reading Of Sanders Amendment Stalls Senate Health Debate

Sorry to go all procedural on you. We aim to run a blog about health rather than legislative minutiae.

But the Senate clerk is now reading a 767-page amendment from Vermont's very independent Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Democrats' health overhaul bill that would put everybody on the Medicare rolls, creating a single-payer health system in one fell swoop.

If Reid won't slow down this debate, we will do it for him.

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The reading, allowed under Senate rules, is usually waved. Slogging through this beast could take all day and half the night.

Time is already short for action on the Senate health care overhaul bill, so how did things come to this? Well, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma insisted on the reading after Democrats rejected his proposal to require health amendments be introduced 72 hours ahead of consideration and with a full cost estimate, too. He'd threatened to do the same thing for the main overhaul bill last month, but didn't follow through.

Now ask yourself, does the Sanders amendment have a Vermont snowball's chance in Oklahoma of passing? Absolutely not! If Sen. Joe Lieberman, another independent who sort of travels with the Democrats when he feels like it, can't stomach a Medicare buy-in, he and others in the Democratic caucus aren't going to get behind this proposal.

Rather, the reading is right out of a Republican playbook for drawing out the debate. "This throws the schedule off considerably," said an unnamed Republican aide to the New York Times.

Some folks on Twitter are making the best of the drone-a-thon. Here are some highlights.

Wonkroom: First one to catch the Senate clerks making Coburn voodoo dolls wins a prize!

Sen. McConnell press secretary Don Stewart (aka StewSays)
Update: Less than 50 pages were read in the first hour of reading the Sanders amendment.

JeffreyYoung_HC McConnell aide @StewSays tells the press: This is no bluff. The GOP will pull out all the stops to slow down and kill this #hcr bill.

Then there's this from South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint
JimDeMint If Reid won't slow down this debate, we will do it for him.

Update: Sen. Sanders withdrew his amendment and the reading has, alas, concluded.

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