Eight Senators Want the Public to Read the Health Care Bill

by

Yesterday a group of moderate democratic senators (and one independent) sent a letter (reprinted below) to Majority Leader Harry Reid asking that health care legislation to be online for 72 hours before a vote. It’s a dramatic recognition that “every step of the process needs to be transparent.” The letter asks the Majority Leader to ensure that legislative text and complete budget scores are online and accessible for at least 72 hours before the Senate votes for final passage of the bill. But their letter goes even farther than that. The group of eight senators calls for the text and budget score to be publicly available online for 72 hours prior to the first vote to proceed to the bill and for 72 hours of public online availability before the vote on the conference report. The senators also request that the text of all amendments be posted online before debate. They don’t call for 72 hours to elapse before consideration of each amendment, which is an appropriate compromise that allows the public to access amendments without indefinitely stalling movement on the bill.

The eight senators could be critical to the passage of health care legislation and we hope the Majority Leader will heed their call. We don’t want to see the 72-hour rule begin and end with health care, however. All legislation should be posted online for 72 hours prior to debate so that there is time for the public to read and analyze bills that matter to them and share their support or concerns with their elected representatives in Washington. Legislation has been introduced in the House that would do just that. So far, no Senator has been willing to introduce legislation that would change Senate rules to impose a 72-hour rule. Perhaps one of the group of eight will decide to do that, too.

Full Text of Letter to Senator Reid

October 6, 2009

The Honorable Harry Reid Senate Majority Leader S-221 United States Capitol Washington, DC 20510

Dear Leader Reid:

As you know, Americans across our country have been actively engaged in the debate on health care reform. 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. Without a doubt, reforming health care in America is one of the most monumental and far-reaching undertakings considered by this body in decades. We believe the American public’s participation in this process is critical to our overall success of creating a bill that lowers health care costs and offers access to quality and affordable health care for all Americans.

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 legislative text and complete budget scores from the Congressional Budget Office (C.B.O.) of the health care legislation considered on the Senate floor should be made available on a Web site the public can access for at least 72 hours prior to the first vote to proceed to the legislation. Likewise, the legislative text and complete C.B.O. scores of the health care legislation as amended should be made available to the public for 72 hours prior to the vote on final passage of the bill in the Senate. Further, the legislative text of all amendments filed and offered for debate on the Senate floor should be posted on a public Web site prior to beginning debate on the amendment on the Senate floor. Lastly, upon a final agreement between the House of Representatives and the Senate, a formal conference report detailing the agreement and complete C.B.O. scores of the agreement should be made available to the public for 72 hours prior to the vote on final passage of the conference report in the Senate.

By publically posting the legislation and its C.B.O. 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. 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.

We respectfully request that you agree to these principles before moving forward with floor debate of this legislation. We appreciate your serious consideration and look forward to working with you on health care reform legislation in the weeks ahead.

Sincerely,

Senator Blanche L. Lincoln Senator Evan Bayh Senator Mary L. Landrieu Senator Joseph I. Lieberman Senator Claire McCaskill Senator Ben Nelson Senator Mark L. Pryor Senator Jim Webb

Categorized in:
Share This:
  • GEE

    i just wrote a small colum minutes ago and somehow magically it was deleted why must you filter my opinion….

  • Darlene

    It is the duty of government to ask: “Can We afford it?”

    It feels as if it is too late. It feels as if there is no hope. It feels as if a very persuasive but wrong leader is about to begin with youth rallies touting the benefits of a dark eyed society who knows better than God does about everything, including behaving like a dictator from the top down not from the people up. It makes me very very sad. I feel as if our rights have been violated and no one is listening.

    I am reluctant to even post this message because there always seems to follow a rock in the road somewhere in my family.

    IT IS MORALLY WRONG TO INCLUDE GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR ABORTION!!!

    Everyone knows people use it instead of barrier contraceptives.

    Our government has already violated the Constitution by getting into the auto industry at a time when it has been proven a failure in the Soviet Union.

    In debate the first question you can always win against an opponent with is: “How much will it cost? How will you pay for it?”

    Socialized medecine has failed in Canada now you want to try it here?

    At a critical financial time you want to raise taxes when we are not able to help our unemployed family members.

    We are trying to help aged parents and struggling families, while preparing for self-sufficient retirement.

    Tax and spend…it has GOT TO GO!

    I have spent too much money and am now trying to catch up.

    Our national debt is 12 trillion dollars we owe to Chinese. We need to balance the budget not crash it!

    I have heard that one in five children born in the world is reportedly Chinese. Is the next one of my grandchildren born going to have an arm and a leg owed to them because of this travesty?

    But then if Congress is not going to have to use this new Pelosi plan for their family health care we know what they really think of it.

    We need to have fixed term limits for all government positions and throw the bums out – SARAH!!! Help!

  • Darlene

    Does “your comment is awaiting moderation” mean censorship? Hmm…

    • No, it means we need to make sure you aren’t a Russian porn spambot.

  • Darlene

    It feels as if it is too late. It feels as if there is no hope. It feels as if a very persuasive but wrong leader is about to begin with youth rallies touting the benefits of a dark eyed society who knows better than God does about everything, including behaving like a dictator from the top down not from the people up. It makes me very very sad. I feel as if our rights have been violated and no one is listening.

    I am reluctant to even post this message because there always seems to follow a rock in the road somewhere in my family.

    IT IS MORALLY WRONG TO INCLUDE GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR ABORTION!!!

    Everyone knows people use it instead of barrier contraceptives.

    Our government has already violated the Constitution by getting into the auto industry at a time when it has been proven a failure in the Soviet Union.

    In debate the first question you can always win against an opponent with is: “How much will it cost? How will you pay for it?”

    Socialized medecine has failed in Canada now you want to try it here?

    At a critical financial time you want to raise taxes when we are not able to help our unemployed family members.

    We are trying to help aged parents and struggling families, while preparing for self-sufficient retirement.

    Tax and spend…it has GOT TO GO!

    I have spent too much money and am now trying to catch up.

    Our national debt is 12 trillion dollars we owe to Chineese. We need to balance the budget not crash it!

    I have heard that ome in five children born in the world is reportedly Chinese. Is the next one of my grandchildren going to have an arm and a leg owed to them because of this travesty?

    It is the duty of government to ask: “Can We afford it?”

    But then if Congress is not going to have to use this new Pelosi plan for their family health care we know what they really think of it.

    We need to have fixed term limits for all government positions and throw the bums out – SARAH!!! Help!

  • Mary Lirot

    Show that we are “a government OF THE PEOPLE”, and stop the secrecy! You senators have elevated yourselves to a position not intended by either the electorate or the founding fathers! Give us time to see this proposed legislation!

  • Sherry Thaxton

    Show that we are “a government OF THE PEOPLE”, and stop the secrecy! You senators have elevated yourselves to a position not intended by either the electorate or the founding fathers! Give us time to see this proposed legislation!

  • Grant Richter

    The last thing America needs is a ONE Trillion dollar (plus) health care bill.
    With the Credit Card bubble about to burst and take another assault on the economy…this is the last thing we need.

    At last look…those on unemployment can get health care from Medicade. Not the best…but still better than nothing.

  • The public should be able to read a bill that will cost us an arm and a leg in the future.

    What is being hidden in the bill that the public should know.

    I demand the public have access to reading the bill.

  • I am very disappointed in the way our government leaders are approaching this health care reform. You are doing what you want to do and not what the people who put you in that position want. Abortion is not an option. I do not want to pay my money for something my conscience says is wrong. If someone wants to commit abortion then that is their sin do not make it mine.

    Also, the government has not been able to keep Medicaid and Medicare from being misused so why do you think the government will do a better job of a new health care system. Where are your heads?

    I am very disappointed in the majority of the Democratic leaders because they are going to cost us money we do not have. I am retired and do not want to spend my years worrying about money.

    My personal health care is sufficient and I do not want you to make it worse.

    Stay out of things you have no business in.

    Take care of keeping our country safe and our government doing what is right for all not for a few.

    Sincerely your,

    Linda Breaux
    Retired Teacher
    Lake Charles, Louisiana

  • Is Senator Lincoln trying to assuage her guilt at voting no on the public option?

  • We can all hope they will give us 72 hours for this. For sure, we did not get an opportunity to review the EESA bill before it became law. Healthcare is in a crisis and we as citizens can only hope Senator Reid heeds the call of his eight colleagues and opens the proposed bill for review. In fact, I would hope we can get to provide some inputs to this bill by way of comments. But that might be expecting too much.