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GOP Abandons "Read the Bill" Ethos in Favor of Obstructionism

November 30, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

For the past few months, Republicans have been trying to claim that the Democrats are jamming health care legislation through Congress as quick as possible before can read the bill and see what’s actually in it. But today as the Senate began its health care debate the Republicans changed their tune and objected to a rule proposed by Sen. Blanche Lincoln [D, AR] to require that all amendments be made publicly available online at least 72 hours before being voted on.

“In light of some of the trust problems and transparency problems we have, while this appears to lead to greater transparency, we can also see ways that this can limit the ability for the minority to offer amendments, and, therefore, I object,” said Sen. Mike Enzi [R, WY] in response to the proposed rule.

Ironically, Enzi’s own website states:

U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., believes every piece of legislation in the Senate should be available to the public with a full cost analysis by the CBO three days before consideration by any subcommittee or committee of the Senate or on the floor of the Senate.

Enzi objected to the rule on the floor today on behalf of the entire Senate Republican caucus. Republicans intend to flood the chamber with poison-pill amendments as part of their “holy war” to kill the bill. According to the Politico, Sen. Tom Coburn [R, OK] already has “hundreds” of ideas for amendments to introduce during the debate. Requiring amendments to be posted online for 72 hours could gum up the works in the GOP’s operation to, well, gum up the works.

Sen. Lincoln, one of the key Democrat swing votes on health care, responded to the Republicans’ objection to her amendment transparency request in a press release. “I was looking forward to reviewing all amendments as they become available, and I want to ensure that my constituents have the same opportunity," she said. "Over the past months, I have heard from many Arkansans who are frustrated and lack accurate information on the health care proposals in Congress. In response to their comments, I created my ‘Health Resources Page’ to streamline materials from my own website and other Congressional resources. I will continue to update this page with any materials relevant to the ongoing health reform proposals before Congress.”

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