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Single-payer on the Senate floor; Update: Dems end bill reading with questionable tactics

By Michelle Malkin  •  December 16, 2009 12:40 PM

If you have cable TV, tune in to C-SPAN now. Or watch live here.

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.

It’s being read now.

The clerk just read a droning bureaucratic section on government oversight of hearing aid tests and another on “dietary management” services.

(Fun fact: It took 17 minutes to read the 6 page table of contents.)

Big Nanny dreams and schemes laid bare.


10:55am Eastern. The clerk is now reading a section involving dental services, with specific details about “molars” and “posterior teeth.”

Ed Morrissey notes the strategy:

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.

It’s on.


Jim DeMint: “If Reid won’t slow down this debate, we will do it for him.”

Coburn calls out Baucus and Dems admitting they don’t have time to read or understand Reid’s plan:


Update: Hmmm. The Dems had Sanders pull his amendment a little before 3:00pm Eastern.

Roll Call reports:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday afternoon withdrew his proposal to create a single-payer insurance system after Republicans compelled Senate clerks to spend hours reading his 767-page amendment to the health care bill as a way to slow down work on the legislation. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) forced clerks to begin reading the amendment in the Republicans’ first attempt at stalling the health care bill.

How Sanders was able to withdraw his amendment is unclear — under the chamber’s rules it appears that a motion to withdraw would not be in order during the reading of the bill. However, the Senate Parliamentarian — in what a GOP aide called “an incredibly bizarre decision” — ruled Sanders’ request was allowable.

Coburn, who originally forced the reading of the amendment, attempted to call for the “regular order,” which would be the reading of the amendment. However, the presiding officer recognized Sanders long enough for him to withdraw, saying it was within the Senator’s rights to do so.

More on the rules from Philip Klein at the American Spectator.

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