3:05 p.m. ET: The read-a-thon is over. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has withdrawn the 767-page amendment so that the reading can end and debate on the legislation can resume.
Our earlier headline: "Now In The Senate: GOP Requires Clerk Read 767-Page Health Care Amendment."
And here's our original post:
By Mark Memmott
Thanks to C-SPAN.org, we all can watch right now — if we wish — as the clerk of the Senate reads aloud a 767-page amendment to the health care overhaul legislation that's slowly making its way through the legislative process.
As the Associated Press explains, "the Senate is in health care gridlock" after Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma "invoked his right to require that an amendment by another lawmaker be read aloud." Coburn took that action after his push to require that amendments be offered 72 hours in advance and with their costs fully spelled out was rejected.
The reading started around noon ET and according to Politico, Don Stewart, a spokesman for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said "this will take several hours, if not the balance of the day."
The Hill says this is "paralyzing action on the chamber floor as Democrats approach a Christmas deadline."
The Hill adds that:
Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives called on McConnell to use every parliamentary tactic at his disposal to slow Senate action.
Update at 2 p.m. ET. NPR's Julie Rovner reports that:
The amendment offered by Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders would create a national, single-payer health care system. It's not expected to pass. But Republicans are clearly trying to prove a point by requiring the Senate clerk to read all 767 pages of the proposal aloud.
Democrats are still scrambling to assemble one last amendment. It will combine all the last-minute changes to the bill that are needed to get the 60 votes that will cut off debate. Republicans say they may require that amendment to be read aloud on the floor as well. If senators are to finish the bill by Christmas, they'll have to file that final amendment no later than Friday.