Thursday, December 17, 2009
‘And here’s the most outrageous part: at the end of this rush, they want us to vote on a bill that no one outside the Majority Leader’s conference room has even seen. That’s right. The final bill we’ll vote on isn’t even the one we’ve had on the floor. It’s the deal Democrat leaders have been trying to work out in private’
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Thursday regarding the importance of getting it right on health care reform:
“Senators on both sides acknowledge that the health care bill we’re considering is among the most significant pieces of legislation any of us will ever consider.
“So it stands to reason that we’d devote significant time and attention to it.
“Indeed, some would argue that we should spend more time and attention on this bill than most — if not every — previous bill we’ve considered.
“The Majority disagrees.
“Why? Because this bill has become a political nightmare for them.
“They know Americans overwhelmingly oppose it, so they want to get it over with.
“Americans are already outraged at the fact that Democrat leaders took their eyes off the ball. Rushing the process on a partisan line makes the situation even worse.
“Americans were told the purpose of reform was to reduce the cost of health care.
“Instead, Democrat leaders produced a $2.5 trillion, 2,074-page monstrosity that vastly expands government, raises taxes, raises premiums, and wrecks Medicare.
“And they want to rush this bill through by Christmas — one of the most significant, far-reaching pieces of legislation in U.S. history. They want to rush it.
“And here’s the most outrageous part: at the end of this rush, they want us to vote on a bill that no one outside the Majority Leader’s conference room has even seen.
“That’s right. The final bill we’ll vote on isn’t even the one we’ve had on the floor. It’s the deal Democrat leaders have been trying to work out in private.
“That’s what they intend to bring to the floor and force a vote on before Christmas.
“So this entire process is essentially a charade.
“But let’s just compare the process so far with previous legislation for some perspective. Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve done and where we stand:
• The Majority Leader intends to bring this debate to a close as early as this weekend — four days from now, on this $2.5 trillion dollar mistake
• No American who hasn’t been invited into the Majority Leader’s conference room knows what will be in that bill
• This bill has been the pending business of the Senate since the last week of November — less than four weeks ago.
• We started the amendment process two weeks ago.
• We’ve had 21 amendments and motions — less than two a day.
“Now let’s look at how the Senate has dealt with previous legislation.
“No Child Left Behind (2001):
• 21 session days or 7 weeks.
• Roll Call votes: 44
• Number of Amendments offered: 157
“9/11 Commission/Homeland Security Act (2002):
• 19 session days over 7 weeks.
• Roll Call votes: 20
• Number of Amendments offered: 30
“Energy Bill (2002):
• 21 session days over 8 weeks
• Number of Roll Call votes: 36
• Number of Amendments offered: 158
“This isn’t an energy bill. This is an attempt by a majority to take over one sixth of the U.S. economy — to vastly expand the reach and the role of government into the health care decisions of every single American — and they want to be done after one substantive amendment. This is absolutely inexcusable.
“I think Senator Snowe put it best on Tuesday:
‘Given the enormity and complexity,’ she said, ‘I don’t see anything magical about the Christmas deadline if this bill is going to become law in 2014.’
“And I think Senator Snowe’s comments on a lack of bipartisanship at the outset of this debate are also right on point.
“Here’s what she said in late November:
‘I am truly disappointed we are commencing our historic debate on one of the most significant and pressing domestic issues of our time with a process that has forestalled our ability to arrive at broader agreement on some of the most crucial elements of health care reform. The bottom line is, the most consequential health care legislation in the history of our country and the reordering of $33 trillion in health care spending over the coming decade shouldn’t be determined by one vote-margin strategies – surely we can and must do better.’
“The only conceivable justification for rushing this bill is the overwhelming opposition of the American people. Democrats know that the longer Americans see this bill the less they like it. Here’s the latest from Pew. It came out just yesterday.
“A majority (58 percent) of those who have heard a lot about the bills oppose them while only 32 percent favor them.”
“There is no justification for this blind rush — except a political one, and that’s not good enough for the American people.
“And there’s no justification for forcing the Senate to vote on a bill none of us has seen.
“Americans already oppose this bill. The process is just as bad.
“It’s completely reckless, completely irresponsible.”