December 16th, 2009
06:25 PM ET
9 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. Randolph Carter. I'm no expert but...

    Hahaha keep it up, neoclowns. Just one more piece of evidence that y'all are to blame for no healthcare reform. Because it's not about the people, it's about getting power back, isn't it? Have a nice day!

    December 16, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. Rick CT

    If other votes are delayed, only Reid can be blamed. He's supposed to be the majority leader. Leaders take into account such contingencies. Good thing he's not a military leader in a war zone.

    I would hope the Senators would stay and listen (yeah right). Then again, that would cause them to actually understand exactly what they are voting on – and that is not a common Senate procedure.

    December 16, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. Liberal wingnut

    I think its fair to see the actual details versus signing off as the left wing liberals want us to do.

    December 16, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Republicans haven't read the bill, just as I thought, are they illiterate or just too lazy, No. The answer is simple, big insurance lobbyist have paid the Republicans off to vote NO. What else have these Republicans voted NO on because they have been paid off. Think about it.

    December 16, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. SLP

    About time somebody in Washington read it.

    December 16, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. Emma

    The GOP senators and Lieberman are engaging in behavior that is very manipulative. Behavioral scientists call it passive-aggresssive, which is a maladaptive maneuver to express one's anger and get even with those you feel angry toward.

    December 16, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. Robert

    The Dems should bring in the actor/performer who is famous for talking/reading super, super fast for commercials, etc. and let him read it aloud.

    December 16, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  8. Deb n Texas

    May God Bless America, what about the poor and disabled, Lord?

    December 16, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  9. Johnny DC

    Typical Democrat strategy - try to ram through a massive bill without most of their delegates even reading the thing, as rapidly as possible.

    Then deflect any rational attempt to do so as a delay on military spending.

    Reid is vile trash, plain and simple. So are most of the GOP, but open your eyes, Liberals. The Democrats are just as bad.

    December 16, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. WhySoHypocritical?

    A perfect example of why bills should not be allowed to include other non-related bills to be attached to a vote. Every issue and bill should be seperate and voted on accordingly. Where is the transparency Mr. Obama promised? Now that the Dems are in charge there really is no change of business in Washington, just different names and faces but the same old song and dance still reigns supreme. We need a viable third party and then we need a collective increase in national honesty when it comes to voting for elected officials. To many people still vote for a party regardless if they really have done them any good or not. Our country rots more day by day and the finger can be pointed to both ruling parties equally......

    December 16, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  11. torrin123

    Dang, shouldn't have made it so long.

    December 16, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. Obama Victim

    is someone suggesting that they actually read something before they vote??? shocking!!!

    December 16, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. Kim

    Now is time to use RECONCILIATION!!!!

    December 16, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. tubby

    politics as usual in washington but simply put,this is below the belt from the republicans.

    December 16, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. HCR NOW!

    I really hope that the American public remembers this period in history. The one where Republicans in Congress actively worked against the public and for the health insurance industry to make life worse for all but the wealthiest Americans.
    Republicans have faought every measure of attempted reform (you name it), and they only thing they supported in this Congressional Session was an expansion of war. These are desperately sick people.

    December 16, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. Marty

    This is exactly why I switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. The Republicans don't want to make the country better, they just want to be obstructionist. Prime examp.e

    December 16, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  17. Bill or Vin from Philly

    GOP are a bunch of losers, let the vote happen

    December 16, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. Melissa

    How incredibly childish. They're like spoiled brats. Why would anyone listen to a word they say when they're acting like whiny children?

    December 16, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. ChrisInSD

    Once again the Republicans have nothing to offer. Their only idea is to tear down the process.

    December 16, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  20. RAG

    Well, if in the end Coburn's stunt does prevent the bill from being passed, it will be possible to start keeping tally of the number of people that he has murdered by his actions. I think his opponent in the next election should do exactly that. Maybe start placing crosses for each one on Coburn's front lawn.

    December 16, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  21. Thanks again Republicans

    O great, why not waste tax payer money by having all our senators sit through a day in congress where nothing gets accomplished...and you guys are supposedly the fiscally responsible ones?

    December 16, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    What a bunch of babies. There was no way that amendment was going to pass anyway. Just another stall tactic by the party of NO.

    December 16, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. all the news that's fit to omit

    Finally someone is reading the bill, sorry sheep, YOU have no idea what is in it, the libtards have NO idea what is exactly in it, but lets sign it because "we need to make history".

    The last time "we needed to make history" we got stuck with the biggest fraud of a President EVER, Barry Sotero.

    Do some research and don't just believe the lies you are being fed by the libs and the biased media.

    This WILL NOT COVER EVERYONE, it will COST money, Premiums will go up and costs will go up, congrats it's a fraud.

    December 16, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. American Is Not #1 Anymore

    Americans Are So Stupid, Greedy And Lazy. Its Not Even Funny To Watch Anymore. Only In America Can You Take A Great Idea Like Heath Care Reform And Turn It Into A War For More Power. But In The End Thats All Your County Is Good For, Hate, Fear And War. I Will Be Shock If The Usa Last Another 10 Years.

    December 16, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  25. hdjones

    >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.

    The Party of No has been stifling health care debate for more than 15 years. You can't slow it down much more than that!

    December 16, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
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