December 16th, 2009
06:25 PM ET
3 months ago

GOP senator freezes health care debate

WASHINGTON (CNN) – As Democrats scrambled to meet self-imposed deadlines, Senate Republicans froze the health care debate for at least a day Wednesday by insisting that a 767-page mega-amendment be read out loud in its entirety.

The move was poised take some 12 hours or more and grind Senate business to a halt for the day. It also threatened Democrats' ability to pass a health care bill before Christmas.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, set things in motion around lunchtime Wednesday. As the Senate moved to a sweeping single-payer amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, Coburn objected to the common Senate procedure that waives the actual out-loud reading of the proposal.

"I would ask that the amendment be considered as read," Sanders said on the floor.


"I object," Coburn instantly responded.

Senate clerks began with the table of contents and took turns reciting the rest of the bill.

A Republican leadership aide confirmed that party members discussed the parliamentary move at their caucus meeting and planned to require the reading of the entire Sanders amendment.

Coburn defended the tactic in a written statement, saying that Americans should hear competing proposals and that the health care debate needed to slow down.

"It's unfortunate that (Majority Leader Harry) Reid waited until the last minute to introduce his bill and now wants to rush it through the Senate," Coburn wrote.

Reid's office responded to CNN by pointing out that the move pushes back votes on other time-sensitive bills, including funding for the military.

"The only thing that Sen. Coburn's stunt achieves is to stop us from moving to the (defense) appropriations bill that funds our troops," Reid
spokesman Jim Manley said in an e-mailed statement. It's "not exactly the kind of Christmas gift that our troops were expecting from Dr. No."

"Dr. No" is a common Democratic nickname for Coburn, a conservative physician adamantly opposed to most Democratic initiatives.

A Republican leadership aide told CNN that the amendment reading is an example of many tools the party has at its disposal and one they may use again.

Another opportunity is coming soon. Reid has yet to unveil the language for a compromise amendment, which is expected to be lengthy and would also take considerable time to read out loud.


Filed under: Extra • GOP • Health care
soundoff (144 Responses)
  1. Dwight

    America shouldn't take anything that Sarah Pallin has to say seriously. Why would any American support a candidate, is Sarah Pallin even a presidential candidate, that pretty much aborted her last term in office as the governor of Alaska? Sarah's rhetoric sounds like she also believes in late term abortions but is against abortion. Now if Sarah was against abortion why would she abort her last term in office where she ditched on Alaska struck out on the political trail but yet continues to campaign.
    Enough is enough Sarah the real leadership of this country have important matters to attend to not the whims of a late term aborter cheer leader from Alaska that only wants to put her child out in front of her in a political manner meant to gatehr support for her image only.

    December 16, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. Vets4Obama

    It becomes more obvious each day that republicans oppose our military. This stunt is a direct assault on our men and women over sea's. This moronic behavior will cost the lives of our TROOPS. Funding for our brave men and women is now in jeopardy because the republicans just don't care about america.

    How pathetic these little deviants that call themselves republicans are.

    God speed to our troops. We can only pray that we are able to circumvent the deadly foot dragging attitude of the republican terrorists.

    December 16, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. Leo Moranti

    Our hard earned tax dollars at work!

    December 16, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  4. terry,va

    Coburn had requested to have the bill out for 72 hours to let people know what's in Reid's secret bill. When his amendment was denied, he had the right to ask for Sander's amendment to be read. Why are the Dem's wanting to rush this through without people knowing what is in the bill? The answer is this bill stinks and they will pass anything so Obummie can pound his chest and say he reformed heath care. We don't need his kind of change.

    December 16, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. Speaking for Liberals

    As the Senate moved to a sweeping single-payer amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, Coburn objected to the common Senate procedure that waives the actual out-loud reading of the proposal.

    SINGLE PAYER AMENDMENT?!?! Way to go Bernie Sanders!!!! I was beginning to lose hope, but now I remember, it's not "No, We cant." it's "YES WE CAN"
    AND THE GOP CAN'T STOP IT!!!!

    December 16, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  6. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    Awesome! Whatever they can do to prevent this ill-conceived bill from being shoved down our throats, the better!

    The American public gets it, why don't the dems? Why won't they work on TRUE bipartisan healthcare reform which includes tort reform?

    December 16, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  7. Vancouver Canada

    Your government hard at work.

    December 16, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  8. IndiePA

    I, too, am a Democrat who voted for Obama. Would I do it again? Unfortunately, yes, given McCain's authorship of the amnesty legislation and his (poor) selection of a running mate. That being said, it's about time someone is making these paid representatives become somewhat knowledgeable about such an important piece of legislation. Unfortunately, the gentleman who labeled Obama a "liar" when he made the statement indicating that ILLEGAL immigrants would not be eligible for this healthcare was entirely correct. If they read far enough, they will see that there is a section of the bill which indicates that proof of citizenship will not be necessary to be eligible for coverage. How is it to be stopped???

    December 16, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. demmie2

    wow. so many people are so quick to dismiss the rights of the people – to have the amendment read aloud. Scary, actually that so many people would rather take away rights than have the rules followed. Scary libs.

    December 16, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  10. Justin

    The usual GOP baloney. What a bunch of clowns.

    December 16, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  11. Wade

    How come many on this thread are not up in arms over President Obama siding with pharmaceutical companies in not allowing for reimportations of pharmacy drugs? He co-sponsored a bill as a senator and said in his campaign that he wanted to allow for reimportation of pharmacuetical drugs.... Now he does not...

    On another note, When you have a 2000 page bill for the sake of America and are now 14 trillion dollar debt, they better take the time to read it.

    December 16, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  12. gt

    have senator byrd read the bill out loud,,,,,, then they wouldnt have to worry about having it sign till after next labor day,,,,,

    December 16, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  13. Lee, California

    I say read it, and don't go home until it is read in it's entirety. Read it on Christmas Day as well, no holiday routine for Congress. Reid should make them STAY in the chamber until it is read completely. Why should they get to go home without finishing the job, we in the military can't work that way. It is with honor, respect, valor and devotion to duty that we serve this Country. So should our representatives! Read it all day and night if you feel you need to.

    December 16, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. Moderate Democrat

    Some people say that this is going to fast, FORTY YEARS of discussing this topic is somehow TOO FAST for these mental midgets. That same group of retards, is so inept, that they also need people to read for them. Republicans, the proof that intelligence in america is on the decline.

    December 16, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  15. Jeff

    This is a bunch of crap what this senate needs to do is take a few days and get all senators to gether and do away with the parliment way of slowing things down and introduce the reconcilliation method 51 votes get it done and stop trying to placate to certain senators Lieberbum ect and GET THE JOB DONE FOR PETE SAKE AND AMERICAS SAKE STOP MESSING AROUND WITH THESE FOOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 16, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  16. Retired123

    Here we go again another GOP fighting. Why didn't they do thie when we were in trouble with the last administration, its just playing politics.

    December 16, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  17. Hugo

    How about this idea? It looks like the country is polarized over this issue. Let's let the liberals that wish to provide entitlement healthcare for their pals pony up and pay for their plan, I mean according to the posts, they are the majority of America. Conservative tax payers, the minority can keep what they have and not participate in the "for Free plan". I have the feeling that it would not be too long before there were more opting out of the for Free Government plan!

    December 16, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. Pragmatic

    OK, Senator No, lets get the TV camera in there and see how many republicans actually stay to listen ...to the whole bill ...... betting you can count the number on one hand ... and by the way ... if health care reform fails ... the republicans will own it forever ...

    December 16, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  19. Brendan Hanley

    Coburn, Palin, and Inhofe are all pure evil. How Coburn passed the medical boards is beyond me. Anyone who truly supports Palin is either immoral, a complete idiot, or just uninformed about politics. There is no other defense, anymore. Psycho Inhofe will gladly deprive future generations of an inhabitable earth, in order to defend his corporate puppeteers. It's laughable to see and hear these cretins claim the moral high ground when they are the antithesis of Christianity on virtually every issue. I once told Denny Rehberg (after hearing him bloviate for 20 minutes) that the sum total of his positions are "I've got mine. But, even better, 99% of the time, it's 'My parents or grandparents got mine'". Real Christian. People are dying from lack of insurance, and the long term effects of climate change are impossible to predict; terrifying. These clowns vote the way their coporate "sponsors" dictate, on EVERY issue. Pathetic.

    December 16, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
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