Moderate Senators Want 72 Hours Before Health Care Vote

Posted October 6, 2009 at 4:16pm

Republican calls for transparency in the health care debate got a boost from eight Senate Democratic-leaning centrists Tuesday, as they called on Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to give them three days to review any bill before it comes to a floor vote.

Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) penned a letter to Reid calling for a 72-hour waiting period and a completed cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office before he moves to proceed on any health care bill.

“Whether or not our constituents agree with the direction of the debate, many are frustrated and lacking accurate information on the emerging proposals in Congress,— the eight Senators wrote.

They added, “Every step of the process needs to be transparent, and information regarding the bill needs to be readily available to our constituents before the Senate starts to vote on legislation that will affect the lives of every American.—

The letter also asks for a 72-hour review and a CBO estimate for any amended Senate bill before a final floor vote, as well as 72 hours and a full CBO score before any vote on a future House-Senate conference report.

“By publicly posting the legislation and its CBO scores 72 hours before it is brought to a vote in the Senate and by publishing the text of amendments before they are debated, our constituents will have the opportunity to evaluate these policies and communicate their concerns or their message of support to their Members of Congress,— the letter states. “As their democratically-elected representatives in Washington, D.C., it is our duty to listen to their concerns and to provide them with the chance to respond to proposals that will impact their lives. At a time when trust in Congress and the U.S. government is unprecedentedly low, we can begin to rebuild the American people’s faith in their federal government through transparency and by actively inviting Americans to participate in the legislative process.—

Republicans in the Senate Finance Committee lost a committee vote along party lines pushing for much of the same thing before a vote on that bill. Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) promised to wait for the CBO’s score of the amended bill before holding a final vote in committee, and that score and vote could come later this week.

Reid has said he would not be inclined to bring any bill to the Senate floor before it has been scored by the CBO.