In an exchange between Senator Tom Coburn and Senator Max Baucus, Baucus admits that Senators don't need to understand or read bills before voting on them!
From Thurber's Thoughts -- (Bold Added)
Most people who get their news from the Internet didn't miss the news of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) objecting to the unanimous consent to forgo the reading of health care bill amendment SA#2837 (co-sponsored by our Sen. Sherrod Brown). As a result of his objection, the clerk started to read the 767-page document - a process that was estimated to take about 38 hours.
The issue made news when, violating Senate rules, the amendment was withdrawn during the reading process.
However, you might have missed what happened just prior to Coburn's objection.
Sen. Coburn asked unanimous consent for an amendment certifying that all senators had read and understood the bill prior to voting on it:"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, the Senators, prior to voting do not have to certify to the American people that they have read - and understood - what they're voting on.
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) objected and here is the exchange:
"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."
Senator Coburn: (12:00 PM) Responded.
"I would clarify my request, that the individual certify themselves. I'm not asking some group of senators to certify some other senator. I'm saying Tom Coburn tell his constituency, I've read this puppy, I've spent the time on it, I've read the manager's amendment, and I, in fact, certify to the people of Oklahoma, I know how terrible it's going to be for their health care."
Senator Baucus: (12:01 PM) Responded.
"The senator is always free to make any representation he wants. If he wants to certify he has read it, he has understood it, that's the senator's privilege."
Personally, I think every bill in the House and Senate needs to have this certification on it. Maybe then, we'd have less ridiculousness coming out of Washington.
It is a privilege for a Senator to make any representation that he wants? I guess that means lying is acceptable!
I bet if this bill had specific pork barrel earmarks for them or dealt with their pay -- these Senate Stooges would know the location of every comma and/or period contained in the bill. When it comes to our future the Democrat Senators just say "Screw it & Sign it".