Republicans Obstruct Health Care Debate By Demanding 2.5 Hour Reading Of Sanders’ Single-Payer Amendment

At approximately noon today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took to the Senate floor to introduce his single-payer amendment. The amendment is 767 pages long. In an attempt to delay and disrupt the Senate debate, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) demanded that the Senate clerks read the entire bill.

Sanders demanded at least twice that the reading of his bill be dispensed with so that the Senate could proceed to a vote. But Coburn objected both times:

SANDERS: I would ask that the amendment be considered as read. …

PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE: Is there objection?

COBURN: There is objection.

SANDERS: …and may I ask me friend from Oklahoma why he is objecting?

COBURN: Regular order, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT: Regular order is the reading of the amendment.

Watch a compilation of the events:

The Wonk Room estimated that, at the pace it was proceeding, the reading of the bill would take 14.5 hours. On his twitter feed, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) explained the Republican strategy:

Jim DeMint

The move by Republicans pushed back scheduled votes on other time-sensitive bills, including funding for the military. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said, “This is a strategy by the Republican leadership which not only endangers the passage of health care reform, it endangers the enactment of the Department of Defense appropriations bill.”

After two and a half hours of obstruction, Sanders relented and withdrew his amendment. Noting the serious crises that confront the nation, Sanders delivered an impassioned address, stating, “The best the Republicans can do is try to bring the United States government to a halt by forcing a reading of a 700 page amendment! That is an outrage! … It is wrong to bring the United States government to a halt.”


Coburn promised “several more stunts” to delay health care.

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