The Spectacle Blog

GOP: Dems Violated Senate Rules By Cutting off Reading of Sanders Amendment

By on 12.16.09 | 3:05PM

The Senate Republican leadership believes that the parliamentarian allowed Democrats to violate the rules of the Senate by allowing Sen. Bernie Sanders to cut off the reading of his single-payer proposal.

When an amendment is introduced, it has to be read on the Senate floor unless the rest of the Senate agrees to cut off the reading, and typically, the requirement is waived through "unanimous consent." Yet today, Sen. Tom Coburn insisted that Sanders' 767 page bill be read on the Senate floor, which was on pace to take more than 12 hours.

But about three hours into the reading, Sanders withdrew his amendment, and this stopped the reading of the bill -- even without unanimous consent.

"In allowing Sanders to do that, it appears the parliamentarian has broken the standing rules of the Senate," a Republican aide emails. "We're looking into the implications of this and working on where to go from here."

Here is the relevant part of Riddick's Senate Procedure, which the GOP believes Democrats have violated, emphasis was in the email:

“Reading: Under Rule XV, paragraph 1, and Senate precedents, an amendment shall be read by the Clerk before it is up for consideration or before the same shall be debated unless a request to waive the reading is granted; in practice that includes an ordinary amendment or an amendment in the nature of a substitute, the reading of which may not be dispensed with except by unanimous consent, and if the request is denied the amendment must be read and further interruptions are not in order; interruptions of the reading of an amendment that has been proposed are not in order, even for the purpose of proposing a substitute amendment to a committee amendment which is being read. When an amendment is offered the regular order is its reading, and unanimous consent is required to call off the reading.” (Riddick’s Senate Procedure, P.43-44)

"It looks like there’s nothing the Democrats aren’t prepared to do to jam this unpopular health care bill down the throats of the American public," the aide writes.

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