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Sen. Coburn Forces Reading of 767-Page Amendment – Sen. Baucus Admits Senators Don’t Understand the Bill

UPDATE: In response to the Republican effort to force a reading of the Sanders’ single-payer system amendment, Senator Sanders took to the floor and withdrew his amendment.

As you would expect, Jim DeMint immediately supported the effort, and by several accounts now, it seems that Senator Coburn was encouraged to carry out this strategy by Republican leadership – who are saying they are committed to stopping the bill. Now, the Senate is back to processing amendments – business as usual, after about a 3 hour delay. The question is, what will GOP leadership do next?

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A short time ago, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) objected to the the unanimous consent request that the “reading of the amendment be dispensed with” when Senator Bernie Sanders’ (admitted Socialist – VT) single-payer amendment (SA#2837), totalling 767 pages, was called up. According to one calculation, this could take 38 hours to read. It is notable that there are two co-sponsors: Sherrod Brown and Roland Burris.

Now, THIS is how you fight the kind of assault on freedom this healthcare monstrocity represents. Leave no tool unused – force the Democrats to face up to an American people who overwhelmingly do NOT want this bill.

BUT, it’s gets even better.

Right before he did that, Senator Coburn asked unanimous consent for an amendment that would, in effect, certify that all Senators have read and understand the bill.

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) objected. The specific excange, notable in its absurdity, can be seen here. The specific text follows, and you can see a general summary of today’s floor proceedings here.

MR. COBURN: MR. PRESIDENT, I HAVE ANOTHER UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST. FOLLOWING CONSENT REQUEST WOULD BE ASSOCIATED WITH A COBURN AMENDMENT THAT WOULD CERTIFY THAT EVERY MEMBER OF THE SENATE HAS READ THE BILL AND UNDERSTANDS IT BEFORE THEY VOTE ON THE BILL.

AND THE REASON I ASK THE UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THAT AMENDMENT BE AGREED TO AND ACCEPTED IS THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE EXPECT US TO BE DOING. AND SO WE — WE DON’T HAVE A BILL RIGHT NOW. WE DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO BE IN THE BILL. THE CHAIRMAN HAS A GOOD IDEA OF WHAT’S GOING TO BE IN THE BILL. BUT HE DOESN’T KNOW FOR SURE. ONLY TWO SETS OF PEOPLE, SENATOR REID AND HIS STAFF AND C.B.O. KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO BE IN THE BILL. I SUSPECT SOMEBODY AT THE WHITE HOUSE MIGHT. BUT WE OUGHT TO — WE OUGHT TO TAKE AND EMBRACE THIS IDEA OF TRANSPARENCY AND RESPONSIBILITY THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE CAN EXPECT EVERY ONE OF US TO HAVE READ THIS BILL PLUS THE AMENDED BILL AND — AND CERTIFY THAT WE HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING FOR WHAT WE’RE DOING TO HEALTH CARE IN AMERICA WITH THIS BILL. AN I’D ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THAT BE ACCEPTED.

MR. BAUCUS: MR. PRESIDENT?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: IS THERE OBJECTION?

MR. BAUCUS: MR. PRESIDENT?

THE PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM MONTANA.

MR. BAUCUS: RESERVING THE RIGHT TO OBJECT.

I CERTAINLY AGREE WITH THE BASIC UNDERLYING IMPORT THAT WE SHOULD KNOW WHAT WE’RE VOTING ON HERE. I MUST SAY TO MY GOOD FRIEND THAT PRESUMES A CERTAIN LEVEL OF — OF PERCEPTION ON MY PART AND UNDERSTANDING IN DELVING INTO THE MINDS OF THE SENATOR, THAT NOT ONLY DO THEY READ, BUT TAKE THE TIME TO UNDERSTAND? WHAT DOES UNDERSTAND MEAN? UNDERSTAND THE FIRST, SECOND LEVELS OF QUESTIONS?

I THINK IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO CERTIFY THAT ANY SENATOR FULLY UNDERSTOOD. THEY HEY READ, BUT NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS.

MR. COBURN: I WOULD CLARIFY MY REQUEST. THAT THE INDIVIDUAL CERTIFY THEMSELVES. I’M NOT ASKING SOME GROUP OF SENATORS TO CERTIFY SOME OTHER SENATOR. I’M SAYING TOM COBURN TELL HIS CONSTITUENCY I’VE READ THIS PUPPY, I’VE SPENT THE TIME ON IT, I’VE READ THE MANAGER’S AMENDMENT, AND I, IN FACT, CERTIFY TO THE PEOPLE OF OKLAHOMA, I KNOW HOW TERRIBLE IT’S GOING TO BE FOR THEIR HEALTH CARE.

MR. BAUCUS: THE SENATOR IS ALWAYS FREE TO MAKE ANY REPRESENTATION HE WANTS. IF HE WANTS TO CERTIFY HE HAS READ IT, HE HAS UNDERSTOOD IT, THAT’S THE SENATOR’S PRIVILEGE.

MR. COBURN: THE SENATOR WON’T ACCEPT THAT WE AS A BODY ON 1/6 OF THE ECONOMY OUGHT TO KNOW WHAT WE’RE DOING.

MR. BAUCUS: I CAN’T CERTIFY ANY MEMBER OF THE SENATE HAS DONE ANYTHING AROUND HERE. NEITHER CAN THE SENATOR FROM OKLAHOMA. IF THE SENATOR WANTS TO CERTIFY IT, THAT’S GREAT. ON ANY MEASURE. BUT I CAN’T CERTIFY ON 100 DIFFERENT SENATORS. THAT’S UP TO THE DIFFERENT SENATORS. THAT’S UP TO THEIR MENTAL CAPACITIES AND CONSCIENCES AND SO FORTH. I CAN’T CERTIFY THAT.

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