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Much has been made of Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) threat to force a full reading of the Senate health insurance reform bill on the floor, though it poses no particular threat to the bill's passage. It's just a way to kill some time and be annoying.

Should everyone who's interested read it? Sure. Should Senate resources be consumed forcing a clerk to read it to no one in particular? Probably not.

Conservative activists view the move as heroic, but I suppose that's a reflection of low expectations. The clerks will read it, and then... they'll finish.

Yawn.

Democrats, in return, say they'll force Republicans to stay on the floor continuously throughout the exercise. At least one Coburn ally will have to remain on the floor to object to unanimous consent requests to dispense with the reading. Whether they'll be able to require the presence of more than one Republican, though, remains to be seen.

Procedurally speaking, what's Coburn's actual play here? The Hill's report on his threat says only this:

Under Senate rules, any senator can demand that a bill be read before debate. Republicans, however, would have to stay on the floor the entire time to object to Democratic motions to stop the reading.

But here's what Senate rules say about reading bills:

Every bill and joint resolution shall receive three readings previous to its passage which readings on demand of any Senator shall be on three different legislative days, and the Presiding Officer shall give notice at each reading whether it be the first, second, or third: Provided,That each reading may be by title only, unless the Senate in any case shall otherwise order.

That's Rule XIV, and reading a bill by title means you don't read the whole text, but just the names of the titles, of which the Senate bill has just six:

TITLE I--HEALTH CARE COVERAGE
TITLE II--PROMOTING DISEASE PREVENTION AND WELLNESS
TITLE III--IMPROVING THE QUALITY AND EFFICIENCY OF HEALTH CARE
TITLE IV--TRANSPARENCY AND PROGRAM INTEGRITY
TITLE V--FRAUD, WASTE, AND ABUSE
TITLE VI--REVENUE PROVISIONS

Not much to read.

So what's everybody talking about?

Well, the problem starts in Title VI. The revenue provisions. Why? Remember Art. I, Sec. 7 of the Constitution:

All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

That means the Senate has to resort to one of its favorite tricks in order to chime in with its own original proposals for revenue measures. That is, they can write the provisions, but need a House-originated vehicle to move them in order to be in technical compliance with Art. I, Sec. 7. So what they usually do is take a dormant House-passed bill that's awaiting Senate action, call it up, strip out the entire text of it, and amend it by offering their own bill as a substitute. That gives them their preferred revenue text, but puts it in a House-passed bill as an "amendment," even though it gets rid of everything the House wrote into it. In this case, they have the actual House-passed health insurance reform bill to use as a vehicle, and amending it will give them two versions of the same bill, and thus the opportunity after passage to immediately seek a conference with the House.

So why does that change anything? See Rule XV:

  1. (a) An amendment and any instruction accompanying a motion to recommit shall be reduced to writing and read and identical copies shall be provided by the Senator offering the amendment or instruction to the desks of the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader before being debated.

The Senate bill, though it currently carries its own designation as S. 1796, will be offered as an amendment to a House bill in order to be in compliance with the constitutional requirements regarding revenue bills. And the default rule on amendments is that they get read, and Rule XV doesn't say anything about reading it by title.

Oh well.

In the end, it's just not going to do that much. It won't take all that long to read it -- certainly not by comparison with how long it'll take to move it through the Senate. In the vast procedural toolkit available to Senators, it's probably the least interesting trick there is. Frankly, it was more interesting figuring out how he thought he'd be entitled to the reading than it's likely to be actually requiring it to go forward.

But that's the way Crossword Tommy rolls. He wasn't much interested in what was going on when Republicans were in the majority and he was assigned the task of presiding over debate. And now he's going to see to it that everybody spends a couple hours being as bored with the legislative process as he was.

Gosh. That's... really something.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:17 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  When is the damn CBO score coming out? (12+ / 0-)

    Obama 7/09: "Don't bet against us" (unless the Dems screw it up).

    by Drdemocrat on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:19:23 AM PST

  •  republicans can read? (6+ / 0-)

    that's real news. you wouldn't know from the ignorant crap they spew constantly.

    First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win - Gandhi

    by mysticlaker on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:19:31 AM PST

  •  But we have that speed reader guy (14+ / 0-)

    who can read the whole bill in like an hour or two.

    are the goopers trying to ban fast readers now?

    The best way to save the planet is to keep laughing!

    by LaughingPlanet on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:20:41 AM PST

  •  Isn't the bill a couple thousand pages long? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JML9999

    I'd imagine that will take some time to read.

  •  Doesn't this just offer an early test (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clem Yeobright, polar bear

    of Lieberman's loyalty?

    I mean, if Reid directs the clerk to dispense with the reading, and the Republicans object on point of order... can't the PofO be waived by 60 votes?

    In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

    by sullivanst on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:25:28 AM PST

  •  they ought to get (0+ / 0-)

    some good competitive "spread" debaters to read it. would be done in an hour.

  •  No problem - hire a speedreader (5+ / 0-)

    again - I recall they did that a couple months ago...

    Ignorance makes the world go flat

    by sleipner on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:28:18 AM PST

  •  I know this didn't start yesterday ... (10+ / 0-)

    ...but I have to say that this is kind of sickening:

    That gives them their preferred revenue text, but puts it in a House-passed bill as an "amendment," even though it gets rid of everything the House wrote into it.

    Getting around the Constitution with this game-playing may not be all that harmful in the grand scheme of things that Congress and the Presidency have tried to get around the Constitution on throughout history. But it reeks nonetheless.

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:29:00 AM PST

    •  "gut and stuff" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clem Yeobright, polar bear

      It goes on in a number of chambers, particularly those where the budget-is-House-business rule applies. And at least in Oregon, it doesn't even have to be a cross-chamber bill; bills in their own chamber get GnS'ed routinely, particularly at the end of the session, past the date when all bills to be considered must have been introduced already. They use the carcasses of dead bills to make new ones after the deadline. It's weird, but it's not unusual.

      LoadedOrygun.net--Oregon's Progressive Community

      by torridjoe on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:45:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't see it that way. (0+ / 0-)

      What percentage of the bill introduced as a Senate amendment would you find non-disgusting?

      Is KX saying the Senate will be dealing with H.R.3962 or with a different bill entirely? If the former, the substitution seems perfectly appropriate to me.

      Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

      by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:46:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Method (0+ / 0-)

        The method that subverts the clear Constitutional provision that revenue raising begins in the House is what's disgusting, regardless of what's delivered by that method.

        In fact, the Constitution doesn't really allow this trick. It says "all bills for raising revenue must originate in the House". The bill the House originated did not raise revenue. Therefore the "revised" bill the Senate sends back that raises revenue is not the bill the House originated, according to the terms of that Constitutional prescription.

        That's where to draw the line on the identity of the bill, which supports the Constitution instead of subverting it.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:16:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So you want an 'upperdown' vote by the Senate (0+ / 0-)

          of each House revenue measure? Has that ever been the interpretation historically, or are you proposing it as something new today?

          And where does this come from:

          The bill the House originated did not raise revenue.

          H.R.3962 doesn't raise revenue? Or is the Senate amending a different bill?

          Don't both houses have to approve the same bill in order for it to become law?

          Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

          by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:25:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No (0+ / 0-)

            No, I think a House committee that receives all bills coming from the Senate should agree either that the incoming bill doesn't raise revenue, or that it does but the revenue raise originated in the House.

            And I'd like to see a watchdog org sue to interfere with any bill that does not meet those explicit Constitutional criteria.

            I don't know the history of this trick. But I expect it has become more common as time has gone on, as it has been in practice the entire time any congressmember has been in office. That doesn't make it OK. Sometimes procedural abuses have to go on for some time to make clear they're worth fixing.

            The tactic we're discussing is where the Senate takes some other bill that did originate in the House, that had nothing to do with what it sends to the House, removes everything from that original bill, and introduces new text that raises revenue.

            It's true that both chambers must approve the same bill for it to become law (if it's then signed by the president). But often each chamber produces and votes for its own version of a bill. Then the two different bills go to a Conference Committee assigned by both House and Senate to resolving difference between that particular pair. Or the longer process of each chamber amending the bill it received from the other, passing it back and forth until it passes without further amendment, but that takes longer and is less certain of success.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:49:21 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So what bill is the Senate attaching HCR to? (0+ / 0-)

              and why are they not using H.R.3962, if they are not?

              In your first paragraph, are you saying if the House raises the top tax rate to 45% and the Senate chooses not to pass that but instead substitutes 44%, the House should be forbidden to go to Conference over it? Is that what your watchdog would enforce?

              And if the House passes an omnibus revenue measure revising the tax code, and the Senate balks at passing one of 25 sections that the House included, the bill must be dead? The republicans can block the entire effort by persuading 11 Dems that that single clause is unacceptable?

              And what does this mean for Health Care? If the Senate returns a bill with any change to the financing of the measure, the House will be forbidden to take it to conference?

              This sounds rather draconian to me. I'm kind of glad you're busy posting here instead of making the rules of Congress.

              Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

              by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 12:03:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  No (0+ / 0-)

                No, you're exaggerating beyond the clear limits I explained.

                Changing a House tax rate from 45% to 44% does not introduce a revenue rise in the Senate; it modifies a revenue rise introduced in the House.

                When a Senate amendment deletes the entire text of a bill that originated in the House, then includes new text that raises revenue that has no precedent in the original House bill, that is entirely different from the example you gave. It's objectively different to say in a Senate amendment that revenue will be raised from somewhere, at some rate, under some conditions, none of which were specified in the House bill.

                The rest of your rhetorical questions all come from your ignoring the objective difference between the tactic actually in discussion and the tactics you're hypothetically proposing here.

                A couple of posts ago you didn't even know about the process that goes through a Conference Committee. That's probably among the many reasons you're posting here instead of making the rules in Congress. I just wish there were more congressmembers in your line than in Congress. Then we might have a Congress run according to the Constitution, instead of subverting it.

                "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                by DocGonzo on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 12:34:15 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I know about Conference Committees (0+ / 0-)

                  but I am still utterly confused about the rule you are proposing. At what point does something become objectively different? (In contrast to what? subjectively different?)

                  Really. If the Senate proposes that revenue will be raised from the same place as the House, at the same rate, under the same conditions excepting one condition and adding another condition:

                  Can the House go to conference or can it not? Is the difference objective or not, in your analysis? What if the rate is different? Now is it objectively different, or no? What if the House had said 'cotton goods' and the Senate raised it on 'cotton and hemp goods'?

                  In contrast, what is the matter with the House passing a revenue measure and the Senate returning that measure to the House with the observation that

                  We passed your bill, here it is, except please notice that we gutted it and substituted something different of our own. Please appoint conferees and meet our conferees next Wednesday and let's work this out. Love, the Senate.

                  Are you saying that this is contemptuous of the Constitution?

                  Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

                  by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 12:48:16 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Objective vs Subjective (0+ / 0-)

                    A bill that has text raising revenue that does not refer to text in a previous bill raising revenue, or refers to a source from which that revenue is raised that does not appear in that previous bill, or mentions a rate that does not appear in that previous bill, or amends a bill that does not raise revenue, objectively introduces revenue raising rather than modifies revenue raising. There can be no doubt that the new bill introduces the revenue raising.

                    A bill that amends a previous bill which had text specifying revenue raising, that changes the terms by which the revenue is raised, cannot objectively be said to introduce revenue raising terms. The difference between the two bills is subjective, whether the change is "big" or "small" depends on a scale in which the change is measured by the observer.

                    Someone can say that an amended bill creating a 99% tax on all goods sold in the US has introduced revenue raising if the previous bill it amends created a 1% tax on red lefthanded paperclips. Someone else can argue that it's a question of degree, that the tax originated in the previous bill but was merely changed in the amended bill.

                    And that is exactly the kind of debate that would be appropriate in a House committee receiving bills from the Senate that are amended House bills. The objective decisions would be easy and almost impossible (no argument, however specious, is ever impossible in the House) to decide wrong. The subjective ones would be often worth deciding in the committee, or worth passing on to the whole House in the general debate before a whole House vote on the bill, informed by the committee report. Likewise, a watchdog group would find it relatively easy to prove to a judge the objectively clear introduction of revenue raising, but have less success in interfering with bills that arguably introduced the revenue raise in the House predecessor, but were amended without excluding the original House revenue raising.

                    Yes, I find your proposed example to subvert the Constitution. Even when you sign the cover letter "Love, the Senate", it shows no love for the Constitutional prescription it subverts by excluding previous language to introduce revenue raising.

                    I had to explain the Conference Committee to you, though you now claim you knew how it worked. I've just explained objective vs subjective differences to you. I'm repeating explanations of the subversion of the Constitution.

                    Unless you have a meaningful question, I've dispensed enough free answers.

                    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                    by DocGonzo on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 01:29:31 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Mishmash. (0+ / 0-)

                      Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

                      by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 01:44:15 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Orly sweetie (0+ / 0-)

                      You think there is a court that is going to hear a taxpayers' suit that a law passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President is unconstitutional because the original version passed by the House said 'cotton goods' and the final version said 'cotton and hemp goods'?

                      Are you going to impress them with your subjective declaration of objective and subjective differences?

                      Please pay your frivolity fines when they are assessed, okay? Preserve some dignity! LOL

                      Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

                      by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 01:56:47 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You're a Clown (0+ / 0-)

                        I think that the people have a right and a responsibility to use the courts to correct actions by the government that subvert the Constitution.

                        Actual court cases rely on distinctions between objective and subjective judgements. Even subjective decisions in questions of degree like whether the subjects of a tax are distinct enough to pass Constitutional or legislative criteria are considered by courts every day, all day long. Don't make me school you on that, too. Because I won't bother.

                        You're the frivolous one. What a waste of time to explain this stuff to you as if you're serious. "Orly". You're an ass.

                        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

                        by DocGonzo on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 02:03:10 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  You do take your nuttery seriously, don't you? (0+ / 0-)

                          I think I missed your response as to whether a federal court will take a case based on the steps by which the two houses of Congress reached agreement on a bill they sent to the President.

                          Can I help? Ain't gonna happen!

                          LOL

                          Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

                          by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 02:18:04 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Hey, Clem (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Clem Yeobright, joedemocrat

                            I'm in a debate with a bunch of other Kossacks about the quality of mcjoan's work.  Please feel free to add your comments.  Thanks.

                            Operator, operator -- what's the number for 9-1-1? - Homer Simpson

                            by jim bow on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 03:21:05 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Got there late, but you held your own. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            jim bow, joedemocrat

                            "I am a fan of McJoan". okey-dokey. :)

                            BTW: Did you read this diary? Especially David W's comment just below here (I think) about 1987 (1989?)?

                            Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

                            by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 05:12:57 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Thanks. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Clem Yeobright, joedemocrat

                            On "I'm a fan of mcjoan," you don't believe in nuance?

                            You recommended ARC's comment.  I guess I have a difficult time with the guy since he's got a long and ugly history of pushing conspiracy theories on people.

                            I did read the diary.  Dale Bumpers is always quotable.

                            Operator, operator -- what's the number for 9-1-1? - Homer Simpson

                            by jim bow on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 05:28:45 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  There is no way a federal court (0+ / 0-)

                            is going to even give standing to a "taxpayer" who objects to the process by which a conference report is generated and then voted on.

                            Not going to happen.

                            The Constitution, Doc, says nothing about this except that both houses can make their own rules.  Period.

                            For umpteen years, a conference report is voted on without amendment being permitted (which would defeat its essential purpose).  The trick of appointing conferees to scramble things together the way the majority and the leadership want it to read is an even older one than that.

                            And you know that, Doc, so stop trying to FOX us all with your nonsense

                            Important whining and Red Sox stuff at http://edsbarth.blogspot.com/

                            by Barth on Wed Nov 18, 2009 at 11:24:34 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

    •  Ultimately, I don't see that it makes all that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clem Yeobright

      much difference.

      The House does have options if they don't agree with the Senate version.

      In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

      by sullivanst on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:54:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  one of those little questions I asked KagroX (0+ / 0-)

      what seemed like ages ago.

      Thanks again, Sen Baucus.

      Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices--François-Marie Arouet

      by CA Berkeley WV on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 12:49:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Aside from being an assinine obstructionist move, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Superribbie

    Coburn is trying to help the GOPers who are illiterate as well as ignorant.

  •  A legislative version of Barry Sanders? (0+ / 0-)

    A lot of ninja juking, that ends up back at the original line of scrimmage.

  •  Is Coburn going to sit through it? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    droogie6655321, sullivanst

    Does he realize that his saying that every word is so important that it must be read aloud pretty much dictates that he sit there and listen to it being read aloud?  

    A vote for a filibuster on the health care reform bill is a vote for higher deficits and 44,000 deaths/year due to lack of insurance.

    by Inland on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:29:59 AM PST

    •  He doesn't have to listen (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clem Yeobright, crystal eyes

      he can get through six Weekly Reader crosswords while they read!  Or, do two clues in a New York Times puzzle.

      I'mma let you finish, Barack, but the teabaggers have done about the most for international peace of all time.--The collective GOP 10/9/09

      by Superribbie on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:41:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you think he'll even sit through it? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        crystal eyes

        I assume he wouldn't be paying attention; but can you believe he'll pretend to sit through it?

        Remember, he can't tell us that there are some parts that aren't needed to be heard out loud, or he wouldn't have called for reading the entire thing to the chamber.  

        A vote for a filibuster on the health care reform bill is a vote for higher deficits and 44,000 deaths/year due to lack of insurance.

        by Inland on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:45:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Get the speed reader (0+ / 0-)

    Use the same guy that the House used to speed read it.

    The shortest distance between two points is never a straight line.

    by noofsh on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:35:00 AM PST

  •  Is there further clarification (5+ / 0-)

    in the Senate rules as to how and by whom a bill must be read?  If not, Reid should divide the bill up among 40 or more Democrats and have them all read their sections at the same time -- it would speed up the process and the cacophany might push any Republican in the Chamber over the edge.

  •  I'd be fine with it (2+ / 0-)

    if all members of Congress are required to be present for the reading.  I imagine it'll be the first time many of them have heard any of the actual bill, instead of merely trading misinformation they got from teabagger constituents.

    Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God. - Thomas Jefferson

    by Ezekial 23 20 on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:36:02 AM PST

  •  That's my junior senator (5+ / 0-)

    just a way to kill some time and be annoying.

  •  Hire the speedreader again (0+ / 0-)

    If it ends up like that.  The guy will start reading it and then the Repubs will double over with laughter when they hear him.

    "Polls are like crack, political activists know they're bad for them but they read them anyways."-Unknown

    by skywaker9 on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:37:05 AM PST

  •  just start playing hardball (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skywaker9, jodygirl, ericlewis0

    and keep Congress in session continuously until this passes and let the GOP play constant defense.  Then they will not have time for things like this.

    •  they all have beach houses to visit (0+ / 0-)

      on the weekend.

      amazing what you hear while they are milling around down in the well.

      Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices--François-Marie Arouet

      by CA Berkeley WV on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 01:07:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can we get the reader to throw in a little (0+ / 0-)

    "My Pet Goat" too?  

    You know, just to compare and contrast.

  •  riveting. (0+ / 0-)
    no, not really.  i lost interest as soon as we started getting to "rules".  Good job, R's!  Let's waste time by boring people to death.

    Say "Yes" to Michigan!

    by jodygirl on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:41:55 AM PST

  •  OMG Mr. Waldman.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, jodygirl

    how do you ever keep this stuff straight?? I can't make any sense out of legislative rules and procedures.

    "I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down on the bottom we, too, should have rights."--Dr. Seuss

    by PaDemTerry on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:43:44 AM PST

  •  okay, so almost everyone would need to stay (0+ / 0-)

    THAT'S THEIR JOB!  DO IT!

    Never walk into a public restroom while breathing through your mouth.

    by quityurkidding on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:44:32 AM PST

  •  Lots of quorum calls. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clem Yeobright, Ky DEM

    Whether they'll be able to require the presence of more than one Republican, though, remains to be seen

    The Taliban and al-Qaeda use bombs to try to terrorize the people; the Republicans use the media.

    by grada3784 on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:47:50 AM PST

    •  Why would the Rs want to show up? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sullivanst

      Absence of a quorum achieves exactly what they want to achieve, doesn't it?

      It's the assigned Republican who will be asking for the quorum calls, I think.

      Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

      by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:52:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The R's will probably be doing that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ferg, Clem Yeobright

      It's a preferred way to delay stuff, because a quorum call has a high priority.

      Absence of a quorum would basically mean the reading had to be stopped until there was a quorum.

      There is nothing in the quorum requirements that says that any members of the minority need to be present.

      In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

      by sullivanst on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:00:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If theyhave a quorum, with few Repubs, (0+ / 0-)

        cloture can be voted.  it's 3/5 of the senators present, if I'm not mistaken, not necessarily 60.

        The Taliban and al-Qaeda use bombs to try to terrorize the people; the Republicans use the media.

        by grada3784 on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:40:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nope, it's 3/5 senators duly sworn (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Clem Yeobright

          regardless of their presence or not.

          The Republicans would only need 1 Senator present to object to unanimous consent requests.

          Unless the Dems want to go semi-nuclear and have the presiding officer rule that the rules don't say what they clearly say and submit it to a simple majority vote.

          In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

          by sullivanst on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:44:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Ah, the good old days (0+ / 0-)

          It used to be 2/3 of all present, but Robert Byrd traded that for 3/5 of all Senators because 2/3 was too hard to get. Ha!

          Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

          by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:47:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Addendum (0+ / 0-)

            It used to be possible for a Senator to permit cloture by just keeping his mouth shut or having a family emergency or something. Now, cloture requires 60 mouths saying 'aye', no more silent assent, no more obfuscation with the constituency ...

            Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

            by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 12:23:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Hey, the Dems have a speed-reader on staff anyway (0+ / 0-)

    just for this purpose.

    Though I imagine the rules concerning the reading of the bill should ideally encourage lawmakers to write shorter bills- maybe ones we can actually read ourselves in that 72-hour window before they're passed.

    I own half a house- it's a duo.

    by EsnRedshirt on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:48:41 AM PST

  •  iirc, Harkin was saying they might just take (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Clem Yeobright, BachFan

    all weekend to read it, forcing the Repubs to choose between a weekend and a reading.  

    •  Forcing ... what? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ferg, polar bear, sullivanst

      They'll need to keep two people in town ready to work 12 hour shifts, but why would any other Republican hang around Washington?

      Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

      by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:53:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Here's part of what the Hill article said, (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kimberley, ferg, askew, Pakalolo

        and a link.

        Harkin said Democrats expect Republicans will try to stall the debate by asking for the entire bill to be read on the Senate floor. If that happens, Harkin said, the majority party is likely to use a procedural maneuver to keep the Senate in session this weekend.

        "If the Republicans want to stay here this Saturday and Sunday to read the bill, then let them stay here," Harkin said, adding that Democrats would hold a "live quorum," where the sergeant at arms requests the presence of all absent senators.

        The HIll via Huffpo

  •  What about quorum calls, David? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, polar bear

    The sole R Senator on the floor can frequently 'suggest the absence of a quorum', can't he? Won't that require 50 Dems to appear on the floor or adjourn for the day?

    Which is not even to mention the time consumed in quorum calls ...

    I think we got snookered when we gave up '2/3 present and voting' for '3/5 of all Senators'.

    Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

    by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:50:46 AM PST

    •  Quorum is a simple majority (0+ / 0-)

      That shouldn't be too hard for Dems to maintain - 50 Dems and the 1 Rep. that needs to be there to stop unanimous consent requests from being granted.

      In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

      by sullivanst on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:02:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  All night long? On the Senate floor or asleep (0+ / 0-)

        in their offices, taking 30 minutes to make it down to the floor every time the R chooses to have them called?

        Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

        by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:16:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Any reason they can't (0+ / 0-)

          snooze in the chamber?

          It's only for as long as it takes to read the bill.

          And if we're talking about snoozing... if the Republican dozes off, they could sneak a unanimous consent request by him.

          In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

          by sullivanst on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:45:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ain't gonna happen. (0+ / 0-)

            Would you want to sleep with 50 octogenarians in the Senate chamber? The fart-clouds will look like incoming artillery all over the place. Way too much opportunity to be embarrassed for eternity.

            Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

            by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 12:06:33 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  And adjournment for the day isn't automatic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BachFan, polar bear

      Instead, "a majority of the Senators present may direct the Sergeant at Arms to request, and, when necessary, to compel the attendance of the absent Senators, which order shall be determined without debate"

      In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

      by sullivanst on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:04:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  See my comment directly above :O). nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  They're going to use every delay tactic... (0+ / 0-)

    Reading the bill would take less that a week.  Assuming 4 minutes a page continuously for 24 hours on end, there would be 15 pages an hour x 24 hours = 360 pages per day means it would get through reading every word aloud in less than six days.    

    Ivory Soap is a Sell-out - It's only 99 and 44/100% pure!!

    by Jonze on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:53:00 AM PST

    •  4 minutes a page would be slow going (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      polar bear

      Remember, the bills are printed double-spaced in a monospace font with large margins and line numbers.

      There just aren't all that many words per page.

      In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

      by sullivanst on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:10:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Whining about the slow recovery drives me crazy! (0+ / 0-)

    We would have be much further into the recovery, if the GOP would stop obstructing everything Obama tries to do.

    This a clear example that they are now nothing more than an obstructionist party.

    All I hear by the pundits is that Obama is taking on too much and failing at the jobs recovery.  UGGGG!

    Enough is enough!!

    "GOP, Grandstand Oppose Pretend" (Rep. Ed Markey, November 7, 2009). Oh, and in case we forget...Blue Dogs Suck!

    by cyeko on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:53:49 AM PST

  •  OK, how long would it take anyway to (0+ / 0-)

    speed read it?  probably be the first time any Senator had read a bill as well. The hearings anyway prove that usually they rely on their staffs to tell them what's in the bills they pass.

    So, Bring it On. let the Games begin. Let the look foolish. What's the problem?

  •  Easy problem to solve. Make an appeal (0+ / 0-)
    to the chair to interpret Rule XV such that reading an amendment can be done as with an original bill, by title.  The chair makes such an interpretation and that ends that.  No hours or days long reading of the bill.  Not that hard to solve.
  •  Please read the entire bill (0+ / 0-)

    At regular speed, maybe even a little slower, but keep all the Gopers stay there for the reading, no not let them leave for even a second, and, if possible, make them stand up the entire time. Of course, I doubt their bladders can hold it for that long....

    I wish they would get a taste of the consequences of their own rampant stupidity.

    Skunks Stink. Republicans Lie. It's their nature.

    by azureblue on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:59:44 AM PST

  •  Will Coburn force a full reading of the bill? (0+ / 0-)

    I chalk it up to the growing illiteracy amongst the Republican ranks.

    If you've lamented the slipping morality of America while snorting cocaine off a male hooker's back during the filming "Jesus Camp", you might be a Republican.

    by The Gryffin on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 10:59:46 AM PST

  •  Double Down (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, polar bear, sullivanst

    This serves two purposes really. The first is delay. The second is you can make political hay out of it later if the Democrats object or vote against it.

    I say double down and get the Democratic Caucus to sit through the entire thing. Then bombard Republicans for not wanting to listen to the whole thing.

    The Great Depression: Now In Color!

    by TheChop on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:00:42 AM PST

  •  Petty, petulant asshat. Your modern Republican. (0+ / 0-)
  •  use text-to-voice software (6+ / 0-)

    the kind that vision impaired people use. you can jack up the speed on those things. would speed through the text very efficiently.

    "Could care less" = you care about it with room to spare. "Couldn't care less" = you don't care about it at all. Don't misuse: "begs the question."

    by dickinabox on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:02:29 AM PST

  •  Keep Them In Session For Xmas And New Years (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rhetoricus

    We did that to keep W from making recess appointment

  •  how about this. Change the Senate rule (0+ / 0-)

    that says anytime they want to read a bill in full in the well of the Senate - then the full body must be present.

    That will nix that great idea

    Takin it to the streets....Doobie Brothers

    by totallynext on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:06:05 AM PST

  •  My (0+ / 0-)

    what power Senator Coburn has. Akin to a child with a stick gun.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:07:47 AM PST

  •  Requiring the presence of >1 Republican (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    askew, BachFan, polar bear

    Should be possible. It'd go like this:

    If fewer than 25 Republicans are present at any point, the Dems can break quorum but maintain a majority of those present. They can then suggest the absence of a quorum, and use Rule IV to request the Sargeant at Arms to compel the presence of the absent Senators, at which point the Dems who left to break quorum re-appear to allow business to proceed while the SatA is fetching all the Republicans.

    In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

    by sullivanst on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:08:39 AM PST

    •  When was that last done? Any idea? (0+ / 0-)

      Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

      by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:31:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nope n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Clem Yeobright

        In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

        by sullivanst on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:46:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think it's going to be the Iditarod (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sullivanst

          of legislation to get this past McConnell.

          Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

          by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:53:43 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, there's no real way around it. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Clem Yeobright

            He's got lots of ways to obstruct, and intends to use them.

            We've got a bill to pass, and fully intend to do so.

            It'll be a slog, but it'll be worth it. Ultimately, the fight will be good for us politically - it should re-energize the base to see the Republicans doing everything they can to stop us, and us prevailing anyway. Assuming it happens (/gives Lieberman the evil eye/).

            In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

            by sullivanst on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 12:14:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  OTOH: It could be a Democratic field-day (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Barth, sullivanst

              McConnell has been characterizing his stalling as 'needing time for debate and consideration'. Having the bill read to a chamber with few R Senators in attendance underscores his perfidy and cynicism.

              I like the idea above of having a 'Grayson clock' running, showing the number of people dying while McConnell delays.

              It could be that the Republicans will conclude this effort is too risky for them. Maybe?

              Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

              by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 12:30:46 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  1988 (0+ / 0-)

        Karen Tumulty sent me this on Twitter:

        http://www.pbs.org/...

        •  Thanks David. That's hilarious! (0+ / 0-)

          "Senators went off at a dead sprint. They should have been in Calgary in one of the Olympic events up there," Senator Dale Bumpers angrily declared. "The spectacle of United States Senators running from the Sergeant-at-Arms in order to keep from being compelled to attend the United States Senate is an outrage."

          Democrats abandoned the reform bill after the Senate failed to invoke cloture, or end the filibuster, eight times.

          Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

          by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 12:27:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Have the bill read in front (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    askew, wry twinger, BachFan, RustyBrown

    a running digital timer that reads..

        _________ Hours    _______  Minutes  Of Senate

                     Time Has Been Wasted

          On This Republican Tactic Of Obstruction

    If cats could blog.... they wouldn't.

    by crystal eyes on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:10:55 AM PST

  •  So ...what are the trends? (0+ / 0-)

    I can see only two scenarios in which this kind of delay might benefit Republicans:

    1. Support is peeling off, and every delay reduces the chance of ultimate passage, or
    1. delays aren't targetted at the health care bill itself, but with occupying administration attention while unemployment continues to climb, supporting a "Democrats fiddle while the economy burns" for the 2010 elections.

    I have no clue about number 1, but number 2 appeals to my most paranoid cynicism, albeit with an asterisk.

    Sad that I've become so willing to accept that politicians will happily screw the country for an advantage in the next election.

    The asterisk? If the goal is to shift the focus from joblessness, I wonder if it's worth the effort.  So far, we seem unable to reach the top of the "to do" list.

    Free speech? Yeah, I've heard of that. Have you?

    by dinotrac on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:11:24 AM PST

  •  OK, Fine! (0+ / 0-)

    If the GOP wants to force the Dems to read the bill from the Senate floor, the Dems should just pull a Shadegg and have each page be "read" by a different uninsured baby.

    They can just line them up and proceed through the bill page by page, after first introducing the baby and their uninsured parents, and making sure to include many babies from states represented by Republicans and Conservadems!

    Here fishy, fishy! Come follow me on Twitter

    by seenos on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:11:46 AM PST

  •  The House Should Stop That (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kimberley

    So what they usually do is take a dormant House-passed bill that's awaiting Senate action, call it up, strip out the entire text of it, and amend it by offering their own bill as a substitute.

    The Constitution requires that the House originate revenue bills. That stunt by the Senate guts that Constitutional provision by trickery. The House should be able to stop that usurpation of its power. Maybe a House committee that acts on returning bills to determine whether it's merely amended properly, or whether it's a medium for some trickery.

    We should not accept our Constitutionally defined branches and chambers laziness in protecting from each other their separated powers.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:11:59 AM PST

  •  It's ok. This guy will read the bill in 2 hours (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polar bear

    "In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly." ---- Coleridge

    by captainlaser on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:19:41 AM PST

  •  Health Care Bills on Tape™ (0+ / 0-)

    Why don't these conservative 'hero's' do the right thing, read the bill into a mic themselves and upload it to iTunes so we can all listen to it?  That makes about as much sense as having a clerk read it aloud to an empty Senate chamber for hours.

    'Party Before Country' - Official Motto of the GOP.

    by WSComn on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 11:22:54 AM PST

  •  Much ado about nothing Let it happen (0+ / 0-)

    Reading the bill will be the least of the problems in getting passed.  

  •  Eyeroll (0+ / 0-)

    When are these petulant children going to grow up?

    Look! A recently married gay immigrant couple at an abortion clinic! Teabags!

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 12:03:08 PM PST

  •  Well, why don't we just start reading it then? (0+ / 0-)

    Knowing that they are going to demand it, Harry Reid should just ask that it be read right away.  Like now.  

  •  Use text-to-speech software (0+ / 0-)

    and have it read at the fastest speed humans can comprehend words. How about 300 words per minute? It could then read it out loud non-stop and grind through 2,000 pages in a day or two.

    "There is a time when panic is the appropriate response."

    by londubh on Tue Nov 17, 2009 at 01:54:06 PM PST

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