GOP Tries To Stall Health Care Debate
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
From NPR News, This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
NPR's David Welna has this update on the health care saga's increasingly fractious endgame.
DAVID WELNA: Senate Chaplain Barry Black had his work cut out for him this morning trying to inspire civility among battling senators.
BLOCK: Lord help them to relinquish any negative thoughts to you, and receive a fresh infusion of your hope.
WELNA: Or perhaps hope against hope. The Senate's only declared socialist, Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, finally got his chance today to offer an amendment, a measure extending Medicare coverage to everyone.
SIEGEL: I will be offering on the floor of the Senate, I believe for the first time in history, a national single payer program and I look forward to getting a vote on that. I am not naive. I know that we will lose that vote.
WELNA: Things proceeded at least initially as they usually do with a new amendment, with the clerk reading it and its sponsor asking that the reading be dispensed with.
U: Strike line six and all that follows to the end and insert the following...
SIEGEL: ...have amendment be considered as read.
SIEGEL: President, I object.
SIEGEL: I object.
U: Objection is heard.
WELNA: That was Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn objecting, which every senator has the right to do, but hardly ever does. Sanders was clearly bewildered.
SIEGEL: I ask my friend from Oklahoma why he is objecting?
SIEGEL: Regular order, Mr. President.
WELNA: And regular order, in this case, was the reading of the nearly 800 pages in Sanders' amendment, a task that would take at least 10 hours. Asked outside the Senate chamber why he was insisting on this, Coburn simply shrugged.
SIEGEL: We are going to understand what single payer is all about. We're going to read the bill.
WELNA: Hours later, Dick Durbin, the Senate's number two Democrat, called a news conference to denounce what he called Republican efforts to kill the health care bill.
SIEGEL: I have in my hand a smoking tweet.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
SIEGEL: From Senator Jim DeMint - tweeted the following: if Reid won't slow down this debate, we will do it for him. End of tweet.
WELNA: David Welna, NPR News, The Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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