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Coburn Vows to Read Health Care Bill on Senate Floor

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) confirmed Senate Democratic leaders’ fears that he will insist that the massive health care reform bill be read aloud on the Senate floor. “The American people are going to get to hear this bill read, period,— Coburn told reporters Monday night. The bill is expected to be hundreds of pages long and possibly more than 1,000 pages. It would take the Senate clerk several days to read the entire thing. One senior Senate Democratic aide said Republicans will be expected to man the floor the entire time if they want the bill read aloud.Otherwise, Reid might ask unanimous consent to dispense with the reading. Such requests are routinely granted in the Senate, but opponents have occasionally objected to either slow down progress on the bill or to highlight other objections. Coburn said he would also block other legislative shortcuts that Reid might seek to employ. For example, he said he would require the Senate to use up the entire 30-hour debate period called for after a filibuster has been broken. Republicans plan to try to filibuster the motion to proceed to the health care measure, but Democrats say they think they will be able to rally all 60 Members of their caucus to produce the three-fifths vote needed to block the gambit. The vote on the filibuster could occur as early as Friday but may be pushed into the weekend, Democratic aides said Monday. If Coburn follows through on his threats, the Senate could be in session most of Thanksgiving week. But Coburn predicted the time constraints of the holiday would force Reid to begin reading the bill after Thanksgiving. Either way, he said Republicans would “rotate— shifts on the Senate floor during the bill’s reading. Earlier this month, Republican leadership aides said Coburn was unlikely to make such a move without the blessing of GOP leaders.

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