Sanders Pulls Amendment to Halt Coburn’s Delay Tactic

Posted December 16, 2009 at 2:09pm

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday afternoon withdrew his proposal to create a single-payer insurance system after Republicans compelled Senate clerks to spend hours reading his 767-page amendment to the health care bill as a way to slow down work on the legislation. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) forced clerks to begin reading the amendment in the Republicans’ first attempt at stalling the health care bill.

How Sanders was able to withdraw his amendment is unclear — under the chamber’s rules it appears that a motion to withdraw would not be in order during the reading of the bill. However, the Senate Parliamentarian — in what a GOP aide called “an incredibly bizarre decision— — ruled Sanders’ request was allowable.

Coburn, who originally forced the reading of the amendment, attempted to call for the “regular order,— which would be the reading of the amendment. However, the presiding officer recognized Sanders long enough for him to withdraw, saying it was within the Senator’s rights to do so.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) cited Senate Rule XV, which states, “Any motion, amendment, or resolution may be withdrawn or modified by the mover at any time before a decision, amendment, or ordering of the yeas and nays, except a motion to reconsider, which shall not be withdrawn without leave.—

Durbin said Wednesday that he hopes to begin work on the Defense appropriations bill later in the day, now that the reading of Sanders’ amendment is complete.