Senator Baucus and Senator Coburn were discussing whether or not the entire health care bill would be available for public viewing for 72 hours before a final Senate vote. Baucus wouldn't promise anything, big shocker there! Not! Then Senator Coburn made an interresting request by asking for "unanimous consent." (I'm not an expert on Robert's Rules of Order, so I'm not sure exactly what that means.)
Mr. President, I have another unanimous consent request. Following consent request would be associated with a Coburn amendment that would certify that every member of the Senate has read the bill and understands it before they vote on the bill. And the reason I ask the unanimous consent that that amendment be agreed to and accepted is that's exactly what the American people expect us to be doing. And so we don't have a bill right now. We don't know what's going to be in the bill. The chairman has a good idea of what's going to be in the bill, but he doesn't know for sure. Only two sets of people, Senator Reid and his staff and CBO know what's going to be in the bill. I suspect somebody at the White House might. But we ought to — we ought to take and embrace this idea of transparency and responsibility that the American people can expect every one of us to have read this bill plus the amended bill and certify that we have an understanding for what we're doing to health care in America with this bill. And I'd ask unanimous consent that that be accepted."
So what Senator Coburn is saying is, "We owe it to the American people to make sure we know and understand what's in this bill!" Sounds like a reasonable, responsible thing to me. I don't think Baucus agrees.
Reserving the right to object, I certainly agree with the basic underlying import that we should know what we're voting on here. I must say to my good friend that presumes a certain level of perception on my part and understanding in delving into the minds of the senator, that not only do they read, but take the time to understand. What does understand mean? Understand the first, second levels of questions? I think it is impossible to certify that any senator fully understood.
This sounds like the worst kind of doublespeak to me. Baucus sounds like Bill Clinton asking "what is the meaning of is?" This my friends is my biggest objection to the health care bill. Nobody, except for a few select people in the leadership and maybe somebody at the Whitehouse, knows exactly what is in the bill yet. And if they're not even going to have 72 hours to read the thing before voting on it, then our country is in real trouble!