Baucus Cynically Shrugs Off a Senator’s Duty

For those unfamiliar with the arcane customs of the Senate, any Senator can ask that the Senate take some action, such as amending a bill by “unanimous consent.”  The presiding Chairman asks if there are any objections. If no Senator voices objection, the amendment passes.  If one or more Senators object, indicating consent is not unanimous, the amendment does not pass, and will either be dropped or put up for formal vote.  The Senate uses unanimous consent to save time when an issue is non-controversial or if everyone knows there is a substantial majority in favor.



Yesterday, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) asked proposed that the Senate enact, by unanimous consent, an amendment to the pending health care bill, that, in Coburn’s words,

…would certify that every member of the Senate has read the bill and understands the bill before they vote on it.

This is especially significant since a massive amendment to the bill is now being written in secret and the Senate is up against yet another manufactured deadline imposed by the President, to create an artificial sense of urgency.  This time the deadline is Christmas.  Some Senators are predicting a health care vote on Christmas day.

Obviously, there will not be nearly enough time for Senators to read and fully understand the revised 2,000 pages of dense legalese, with hundreds of references to other laws that have to be looked up and read as well.

Senator Max Baucus, one of the principle authors of Senate health care bills immediately objected.  In the video below Baucus pretends to believe the amendment would force him to certify that other Senators understood the bill.   He ignores Coburn’s clarification, that each Senator would certify himself and continues to object.

This exchange on the Senate floor reveals a cynical Senator Baucus who demonstrates contempt for the notion that other Senators are even competent to understand a bill before voting.  It’s obvious from his dismissive attitude and his chortling that Baucus is accustomed to and expects many Senators vote to impose new laws and new government programs on the American people without reading or understanding them.

The three minute video begins a bit late, cutting off the first few words of Senator Coburn’s statement.  Those missing words are:

I have another unanimous consent request…associated with a Coburn amendment that would certify that every member of the Senate has read the bill…

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  1. uberVU - social comments on December 17th, 2009

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