Health bill could get 34-hour reading in Senate

Health bill could get 34-hour reading in Senate

Joseph Curl

The 2,074-page Senate health care bill would take 34 hours to read cover to cover — and that’s just what Sen. Tom Coburn wants done on the Senate floor.

The Oklahoma Republican has threatened to invoke parliamentary rules to force the Senate clerk (or more likely, a team of clerks) to read the massive bill before the full Senate begins formal debate on the legislation.

The move is strictly according to Senate rules, which say any senator can demand a bill be read in its entirety before debate begins. While Democrats could, if they wish, repeatedly make motions to end the soliloquy, Republicans on the floor could object, and the reading would continue.

What’s even more interesting is that Senate Rule XIV (paragraph 2) states that every bill and joint resolution “shall receive three readings prior to its passage.”

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“Upon demand of a senator, these readings shall be on three different legislative days,” the rules say.

A little quick math shows that at a minute a page — an easily achieved pace since the pages are double spaced and in a rather large type face — it would take 34.5 hours to read straight through the measure put together this week by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Republican leadership and gallery staff say the reading — with occasional pauses and sips of water for parched throats — could take more like 48 to 54 hours.

Pity the poor Senate clerks.

See how fast you can read the bill.

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