Health debate grinds to halt as GOP forces amendment's reading

Republicans forced a reading on Saturday of Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) manager's amendment to the healthcare bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), using a point of parliamentary inquiry, forced a reading of the manager's amendment, the package of amendments a majority leader submits to legislation to finalize its language before a vote.

Reid had sought to yield time to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) in debate, to which McConnell objected before forcing a reading.

The maneuver essentially brings Saturday morning's healthcare debate to a grinding halt as the clerks in the Senate are forced to read the entire bill.

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Reading of bills and amendments are typically waived by senators during day-to-day Senate activities, but Republican senators have vowed to try to slow down and halt -- if not outright end -- debate on the healthcare bill.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) employed a similar tactic earlier this week when he asked for a reading of Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) amendment to install a single-payer health system. Sanders withdrew the amendment, making for a minor GOP victory in the debate.

Republicans have complained that no senator has seen Reid's manager's amendment, making its entire reading necessary.

Democrats are hoping to hold a series of votes throughout the weekend and early next week in order to bring up their health bill for a vote on final passage on Christmas Eve.

Forcing a reading of the amendment is one of many legislative tactics the GOP has available to stall the health debate. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) pledged to drag out the debate by refusing to yield back time during debates, for instance.

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