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Public Reading of 767-Page Amendment Ends After Senator Withdraws Measure

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., withdrew a measure calling for an all-government health care system after a Republican colleague on Wednesday called for its 767 pages to be read aloud.  

Sanders' amendment to the Senate's health care legislation would have created a single-payer insurance plan. The amendment was all but dead on arrival, but Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., ordered that the measure be read in its entirety -- which Senate aides said likely would have taken 17 hours to complete.  

Coburn, disparaged by some Democrats as "Dr. No" for challenging bills in which he finds costly earmarks, had sought approval to require that any amendment considered by the Senate must be offered 72 hours in advance and with a full cost report.

When he was rebuffed by Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, Coburn invoked his right to require that an amendment by another lawmaker be read aloud. That sent the Senate into limbo.

Democrats are struggling to pass their health care reform bill by Christmas.

"The only thing that Senator Coburn's stunt achieves is to stop us from moving to the (Department of Defense) appropriations bill that funds our troops -- not exactly the kind of Christmas gift that our troops were expecting from 'Dr. No,'" Majority Leader Harry Reid spokesman Jim Manley said of Coburn's effort.

Fox News has learned that Republican Sen. Jim DeMint also will insist that new amendments be read aloud, including a new measure proposed by Reid, D-NV, which could be thousands of pages.

DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton told Fox News Wednesday that the senator "has had it" and is looking to "kill the bill." 

"His is now blowing the place up," Denton said, adding, "We are obstructing. Americans want us to obstruct, so we can move on to real health care solutions."

Fox News' Trish Turner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.