ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf reports:
As Democrats began this week to coalesce around their proposal to extend health insurance to 30 million Americans, Senate, Republicans resorted to a delaying tactic . If they follow through, it could keep Senators in session thru Christmas or force Democrats to wait until next year to vote on their health reform bill. The reading is expected to take at least until midnight. Watch here as the clerk describes what’s in Section 1102c. Republican Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma doctor who opposes health reform efforts on the Senate floor, objected when Democrats tried to enter an amendment into the record after noon. The amendment, offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders, has no chance of passing, but liberal Democrats wanted the opportunity to vote on a single payer system to show that it did not have the votes to pass. The normal courtesy is for Senators to allow their amendments to be entered into the record without actually making the clerk read them. They are all, after all, online. Sanders’ amendment would throw out Democrats’ health plan and replace it with a single payer system would fail. As a substitute to the entire bill, it runs 766 pages. If you don’t want to wait for the clerk to read the monotonous legalese, click here. UPDATE: That was a (relatively) quick delaying tactic. After staffers said Republicans would make the reading continue until midnight, Sanders was suddenly (2 hours and 45 minutes into the reading of his 766 page amendment) allowed to withdraw it. This means that the reading has stopped and there won’t be a vote on his proposal for a single payer system. It will be interesting to see if Republicans insist on a reading of Democrats much longer consensus proposal (once it is finally released to the public). Look for that drama to play out late this week or over the weekend. UPDATE 2: The parliamentary plot thickens. Republicans say they did not agree to allow the reading of Sanders’ amendment to be waived. They wanted to keep going, according to staffers. It was the Senate parliamentarian who sided with Democrats and allowed Sanders to withdraw his amendment, clearing the Senate floor and allowing the reading. Republicans say they plan to pursue the matter with the parliamentarian. But the bottom line remains – no more reading and no vote on a single payer system in the Senate.