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Everything In Its Right Place

September 22, 2009 - by Paul Blumenthal

The mark-up of the Senate Finance Committee health care reform bill is currently underway. (You can watch the proceedings on C-Span here.) While much of this morning may be filled with vacuous speech-making by the committee’s members, there are over 500 amendments to be voted on over the next few days. Slate has done an excellent job in creating a Google spreadsheet of every (or almost every) amendment to the bill. Check it out as a guide to the process.

I’d also like to flag this important comment by Karen Tumulty at Time’s Swampland blog:

One of the worst kept secrets on Capitol Hill is that “mark-ups”—the formal public sessions in which legislation is ostensibly drafted—are not where any real work gets done. Where the real deals get cut, and where the favors get traded back and forth, is in private. The mark-up itself is little more than theater, a chance for everyone to give speeches and then march toward a pre-ordained conclusion.

Whatever you’re watching has already been written and planned by the committee members. Lawmakers don’t like to take their messy discussions onto the television screens; sort of a side effect of putting video cameras into a room.

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