A Delaying Tactic Available to Republicans

Senate Republicans are keeping their strategy on health care reconciliation very close to the vest.  We only know of a handful of challenges they plan to mount, but there are literally hundreds of amendments and points of order expected.

But here's a delaying tactic that's available to them, should they decide to use it, though it's not something I have yet heard discussed.

In reading a 2005 Congressional Research Service report, I found a passage that would seem to mean amendments could be read aloud or otherwise, and it would not count against the 20 hours of debate. (Reconciliation mandates 20 hours of debate, but there are a couple of things that can stop that clock.)   A spokeswoman for the GOP side of the Budget Committee confirmed this to be true.

Here's the passage (CRS report Aug. 10, 2005; The Budget Reconciliation Process: House and Senate Procedures):

“Debate on a measure, all amendments thereto, debatable motions and appeals, and time used in quorum calls (except those that precede a rollcall vote) is counted under the [time]limit, but time used to read amendments, to vote, or to establish a quorum prior to a rollcall vote is not counted…”

Republicans have required the reading of bills and amendments before, so this tactic would not be a stranger to them.

You'll recall last December, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, required that the Senate clerks read a 767-page amendment Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, put forward that would have created a so-called "public opotion," or government-managed health care plan.

Coburn would not even crack the door on his strategy for amendments or points of order, though, when reporters caught up with him a little while ago.

No doubt, Republicans feel the element of surprise is critical.