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Tilting at Windmills

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December 16, 2009

COBURN SLAMS HIS FOOT ON THE BRAKE.... There was a point, about a month ago, in which Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) threatened to ignore institutional norms and force the reading of the entire health care bill, just to delay the process. Fortunately, he backed off.

But today, Coburn is playing these games again, and the consequences matter a great deal.

Senate Republicans fulfilled a threat on Wednesday to require chamber staffers to read Democrats' healthcare amendments aloud on the floor of the Senate.

When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took the floor to begin debate on his proposal to establish a single-payer healthcare system, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) interjected on behalf of his party, requesting Sanders's 767-page amendment be read in full.

Although Sanders responded by asking the chairman to dispense of the reading, Coburn again objected, invoking regular order and forcing the Senate clerk to resume his daunting task.

It was supposed to be a productive day on the Senate floor. Coburn has instead brought the chamber to a halt until around midnight. (It's a page out of Sen. Judd Gregg's (R-N.H.) obstructionist manual.)

And here's why it matters: the Senate leadership planned to file cloture on a Defense spending bill today, because existing troop funding expires Friday night. Coburn's little stunt will cause delays that will push off the vote on the Pentagon spending bill, possibly to Saturday.

In an emailed statement, Harry Reid spokesperson Jim Manley said, "The only thing that Sen. Coburn's stunt achieves is to stop us from moving to the DoD appropriations bill that funds our troops -- not exactly the kind of Christmas gift that our troops were expecting from Dr. No."

Coburn's little stunt also delays the process on health care, and makes the Christmas deadline that much more difficult to reach.

More delays for the sake of delays -- it's pretty much all the GOP has to offer at this point.

Steve Benen 1:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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Comments

Joe Lieberman is only against us on the war.

Posted by: Harry Reid on December 16, 2009 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

not that it makes Coburn's stunt any less odious, but why is Sanders in the same sandbox? Does his amendment have any hope in passing or is he just grandstanding also.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on December 16, 2009 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone think that Hrry Reid will finally snap one of these times. It reminds me of those old commercials where the guy gets samd kicked in his face over and over till he finally wises up.


When will Harry finally wise up? The Senate is no longer the congenial body it used to be. You can't get anywhere being polite to Republicans who are willing to do anything to destroy you.

Use the tools at your disposal and make them irrelevant. Otherwise please let someone else lead.

Posted by: atlliberal on December 16, 2009 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I know it's double-spaced with wide margins and length is not an indicator of merit but a 767 page AMENDMENT?

I love ya, Sanders, (the anti-trust consequences proposal for bailout money was gold) but 767 pages on a 2074 page bill isn't an amendment, it's a rewrite!

We can blame Coburn for delaying, but the delay might not have been so onerous and easy to achieve without Sanders verbose abetting.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on December 16, 2009 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

And people claimed reconciliation would take too long. At least with reconciliation the Senate can work on other legislation simultaneously.

Posted by: Joe Friday on December 16, 2009 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

If democrats really cared about America they would drop Obamacare and focus on national security issues.

Posted by: Al on December 16, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Until the Dems stop trying to be bipartisan and get the media to pick up on the theme of GOP obstructionism there won't be any price to pay and the behavior will continue.

Of course that's a lot harder to do when it's idiots in your own party obstructing your bill, not the opposition.

Posted by: mfw13 on December 16, 2009 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Sanders amendment would create a single payer system, so I guess you are right, it does rewrite the bill.

Posted by: atlliberal on December 16, 2009 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

If possible/legal, have multiple readers read the Sanders amendment simultaneously.

The GOP should be beaten to within an inch of its worthless, useless, miserable, amoral existence, tarred and feathered, and then unceremoniously dumped in a muddy ditch on a windy, sub-zero night. A virulent, incurable pox on all of their vile, evil rightwing houses.

Posted by: I Me Mine on December 16, 2009 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

SO OT...but I'm asking for help ...it's GOP related...can someone help direct me to a site where I can find out who "ran" Bush's 2000 campaign in the state of Florida...I've googled all possibilities I could think of???????

Posted by: Dancerb on December 16, 2009 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

It is so fascinating, looking in on the Clown Car United States Senate playing with their poo...

Posted by: neill on December 16, 2009 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

But,the GOP seems to be winning . . . .

Posted by: Mark on December 16, 2009 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

So -- is Coburn going to remain on the Senate floor for the entire period to listen to the reading of the amendment?

Posted by: pa on December 16, 2009 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

More delays for the sake of delays -- it's pretty much all the GOP has to offer at this point.

Give me a break. Coburn is against the bill so he is delaying. It's called playing hardball politics. If the Democrats had half the balls of the Republicans (after all, the Republicans have half the brains of the Democrats) then we'd have a public option.

If Sanders' amendment fails, and it will with most Democrats voting against it, I hope that Sanders calls for the reading of every amendment that comes up, and then the bill itself.

Posted by: Joesbrain on December 16, 2009 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

not that it makes Coburn's stunt any less odious, but why is Sanders in the same sandbox? Does his amendment have any hope in passing or is he just grandstanding also.

Sanders has probably agreed to vote for the bill as long as his amendment is given a fair debate. It's pretty common, and is the kind of rational compromise that the Senate used to do. Being a fair and upright guy, he will probably hold up his end of the bargain, unlike Holy Joe.

Can we change the rule so that the person who wants to have the bill read out loud in full is required to read it him/herself? If nothing else, it should be just for the comedy value of watching Coburn sound out the hard words on C-SPAN.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on December 16, 2009 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

If hippies wanted the public option so bad, then why were they for it? They know we can never pass anything until they're against it.

Posted by: Harry Reid on December 16, 2009 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Damned delays! Just when I was almost ready to just about say what I've wanted to say all along, that I'm ready to vote for Health Care Reform!

Posted by: Joe Lieberman on December 16, 2009 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

This is Harry Reid's problem. He had a significant majority and could have written the rules of the senate session to be less amenable to the GOP; he didn't. You can bet that if Dems were ever a threat to show any spine that the GOP would write favorable rules if they were in the majority.

Posted by: rk on December 16, 2009 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

If Republicans really cared about America they would drop their filibuster of HCR and let the Senate focus on national security issues.

Posted by: MobiusKlein on December 16, 2009 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

"So -- is Coburn going to remain on the Senate floor for the entire period to listen to the reading of the amendment?"

Sorry, pa, he had already left the floor before you posted your question @1:55. . .

Posted by: DAY on December 16, 2009 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

No, the complete collapse and capitulation by the democrats to a minority party and a handful of insurance company tools rest solely and squarely on Obama's shoulders.

He has failed in fighting for the progressive positions he campaigned on.

It's time to start looking for a true progressive candidate to challenge him on '12, and if that causes a Republican to win, so be it.

It's getting to the point where this joke and sham of a country isn't worth fighting for.

Posted by: citizen_pain on December 16, 2009 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Americans die as our senators play politics with our health care! Shoes for industry, shoes for the dead! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on December 16, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

I have to admire Senator Coburn's determination, although I despise him for trying to wreck health care reform.

Too bad senate democrats didn't have the same determination to slow down the Dubya's agenda over the last eight years. Oh yeah, I forgot. Senate dems don't have spines.

Posted by: Ed in Montana on December 16, 2009 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

'The elusive middle ground
One of the most timely lyrics in music is from “Meet in the Middle,” a song by the country band Diamond Rio: “We’d gain a lot of ground ‘cause we’d both give a little and there ain’t no road too long when you meet in the middle.” All of us apply this principle in our daily lives whether it is in the workplace or at home.

'Republicans could be willing to meet in the middle. Is Harry Reid?'

-- Jordan Sekulow, Christian Science Monitor, December 15, 2009

Posted by: Centrist on December 16, 2009 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

For these stunts, respond with another stunt:

Have the Clerk designate a speed reader to get up and read the thing in a couple of minutes.

Posted by: terraformer on December 16, 2009 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

More delays for the sake of delays -- it's pretty much all the GOP has to offer at this point.

There will be no penalty for them; the general public will interpret these actions through the "liberal" media filter as Democratic failures rather than GOP obstructionism.

Posted by: qwerty on December 16, 2009 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think they should read the whole bill on the floor. I'm sure it will be the first time for a lot of senators.

Posted by: bdop4 on December 16, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Let me get this straight.

Forty thousand people die each year for want of healthcare and that's ok, but the precious DOD bill must go through.

This will allow predator drones to kill more civilians. More defense contractor boondoggles. More torture. More abuses of civil liberties. More imperialism.

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

Posted by: Helpburn on December 16, 2009 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Hush the harshness folks. 'Tis the season to be generous...

And I've got some old crayons and toys I'd like to donate to the world's greatest deliberative body.

Posted by: koreyel on December 16, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Fucking Democrats !!!

You know, if someone wrote a playbook on how to keep me from getting promoted, I just might have a back-up plan to counter those points. What do the Dems have, whining and crying, that isn't a plan, it the norm.

This isn't a surprise, so why is my team acting like it is. The fact that Republicans have done so much over the past 9 years is half our faults for not being able to adjust and counter. Adults are suppose to know how to handle children.

The minority is running this country, who's fault is that really, the minority or the majority ?

Posted by: ScottW on December 16, 2009 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Single-payer is off the table.
Public option is off the table.
Medicare buy-in is off the table.

The insurance corporations are at the table, drooling in anticipation at the prospect of feasting on the guaranteed profits that the Senate will require each and every American to pay them under penalty of law.

The American people are under the table, trying to dodge kicks in the teeth from the Republicans as they scramble for the occasional crumb that the Democrats toss them.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 16, 2009 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

So, is Coburn likely to feel any pain here? No. Senator Reid might make some snide comment, that's it. Our system is broken, when Coburn can do something like this for no cost to himself.

I eagerly await more bleating of the pundits blaming Democrats for not being bipartisan.

Posted by: biggerbox on December 16, 2009 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Hey...shouldn't we be getting a CBO score right about now? Funny...

Posted by: Wilcox on December 16, 2009 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

, "The only thing that Sen. Coburn's stunt achieves is to stop us from moving to the DoD appropriations bill that funds our troops -- not exactly the kind of Christmas gift that our troops were expecting from Dr. No."


Screw the goddamn troops.

Posted by: fitz on December 16, 2009 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Dem campaign ad, 2010:
Show C-SPAN footage of the clerk reading the bill. After 10 seconds or so, a voiceover: "The clerk of the Senate is reading the text of an amendmant. This will take about 12 hours. He doesn't really need to do this - members of Congress know what's in the bill already."
A few more seconds of the clerk. Then the voiceover again: "So why is he reading it? Why aren't Senators debating, voting, legislating? It's simple: He's reading the bill because a Republican senator took advantage of one of the Senate's rules and asked him to. Just to slow things down. Because the Republicans don't want the Senate to vote on healthcare. They just want to delay things. Meanwhile, America's healthcare crisis goes on."
A few more seconds of reading. Then: "That's all Republicans do these day. Obstruct. Delay. They have no answers, and they don't have a majority, so they want to stop Congress from taking any action. Action that might help us find answers on issues like jobs, healthcare, the environment." Close with a slogan, like "In 2010, let's come together to elect a Congress that's ready to act. By voting Democratic."

There, that wasn't so hard, was it? And I'm not even a pro at this. So we can expect a lot of easy-win, shooting-fish-in-the-barrel ads from the Dems in 2010, right?

Right?

Sigh. Never mind.

Posted by: Basilisc on December 16, 2009 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Coburn, closet progressive? Seriously how screwed up is it that the HCR bill is now so bad that I'm finding this nutjob's antics to be a good thing? And delaying funds to the military is just a bonus.

Posted by: tlaloc on December 16, 2009 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Did Sanders write his amendment 15 minutes ago? Or has it been available for reading, to anyone interested enough, for the 72hrs that the Repubs had been bitching about? If it had been available, why didn't they read it for themselves? My son learnt to read when he was about 5, after which he didn't want us (my husband read to him in English, I in Polish, on alternate nights. It's not the Royal We, in "us") to read to him anymore, except when he was feeling under the weather and in need of company.

Posted by: exlibra on December 16, 2009 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Go Coburn!

Stop this monstrosity. Give me liberty or give me socialized nationalized healthcare.

I'll take liberty, thank you very much...

Posted by: Tom on December 16, 2009 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

The democrats are Charlie Brown, the republicans are Lucy, and the football is health insurance reform - this time around.

Posted by: rbe1 on December 16, 2009 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Do you Dems have any idea what deep and dire sh*t you are in? No longer the party of "vote for us because we aren't them", and pretending to campaign as "moderates", you have been exposed as the far-left socialists you are and America is having NONE of it.

Posted by: Bill Mitchell on December 16, 2009 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with being The Messiah is that you are never allowed to sin.

How the mighty have fallen.

Posted by: Bill Mitchell on December 16, 2009 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans aren't the Party of "No", they are the party of "Hell No!".

And how can the minority party stand up to and block a party with a super-majority in both houses? Simple, they know the American people don't want this steaming pile of socialism.

If your house was on fire and Republicans refused to throw gas on it, would you accuse Republicans of obstructing the fire? You would.

Posted by: Bill Mitchell on December 16, 2009 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

To achieve peace on earth

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