Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee killed an amendment proposed by Sen. Jim Bunning that would have required the committee to have the legislative language of its health care bill evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office before voting on it.
Currently, the only version of Chairman Max Baucus’s proposal we have is a 223-page draft (PDF) that is written in plain English and explains the bill in conceptual terms. Republicans argued that until the bill is written in legislative language it will be impossible for the CBO to provide an accurate cost estimate.
The Bunning ammendment would have required the committee to have the legislative language of the bill, along with the CBO cost estimate, posted on the internet for 72 hours before a vote.
Democrats argued that waiting for the legislative languange to be written, and for the CBO to evaluate it, would needlessly delay the process by weeks.
“Let’s be honest about it, most people don’t read the legislative language,” Sen. John Kerry said.
The Bunning amendment was defeated by a 12 to 11 vote, with Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln the only Democrat voting in favor.
Instead, the committee adopted an amendment by Baucus that doesn’t require the legislative language to be written, but that does require a CBO estimate based on the plain English version.