Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coburn Forces Reading of Single-Payer Amendment

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn (R-Muskogee) forced a floor reading of a health care amendment today, stalling the Senate for over three hours.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (and self-described socialist) submitted a single-payer health care amendment that would have enrolled every American citizen in Medicaire. Coburn objected to a routine motion to waive reading of the amendment, forcing a reading of the entire measure - something that happens rarely, if ever, in any legislature (federal or state).

Three hours into the projected 12-hour reading, Sen. Sanders pulled the amendment (in disgust, I might add). However, Dr. Coburn pointed out later on Sean Hannity's radio program that the Senate Rules were broken when the parliamentarian allowed the amendment to be withdrawn.

On Hannity's show, Coburn read the following from Riddick's Senate Procedure:

"Reading: Under Rule XV, paragraph 1, and Senate precedents, an amendment shall be read by the Clerk before it is up for consideration or before the same shall be debated unless a request to waive the reading is granted; in practice that includes an ordinary amendment or an amendment in the nature of a substitute, the reading of which may not be dispensed with except by unanimous consent, and if the request is denied the amendment must be read and further interruptions are not in order; interruptions of the reading of an amendment that has been proposed are not in order, even for the purpose of proposing a substitute amendment to a committee amendment which is being read. When an amendment is offered the regular order is its reading, and unanimous consent is required to call off the reading."
Hannity also asked the Senator if Republicans had other parliamentary tricks up their sleeve to stop the health care reform bill. Coburn responded that "here will be several more attempts to derail this bill from a parliamentary standpoint by me." He did not go into detail, since he did not want to tip his hand. He did further state that due to his planned moves, the earliest the Senate could vote on a final bill would be exactly Christmas Eve.

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