President Barack Obama’s push for a sweeping health care overhaul is going to be voted upon in the Senate Finance Committee this week and nobody has read the actual bill yet. The Washington Post reported last Friday that “Senate Finance Committee Releases Its Final Text of Health-Care Bill,” yet you click on a link to the “Bill” referenced in the Post article and all you get is a 262 page description of the legislation. There still is no actual legislative language being given to Senators, Staff or the American Public. That is why many are calling it the “Vapor Bill.”
The AP is reporting that “Dem leader faces tough job in crafting health bill.” The AP reports that “first the Finance Committee bill must be combined with a more liberal version that the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee wrapped up this summer. This merger is so rare that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has never attempted it on any piece of legislation — much less one as complex as President Barack Obama’s top legislative priority.”
This process is far different than the way you learned in 9th grade civics class how a bill becomes law. Nowhere in that class were you told that a bill passes one committee (Senate HELP) and a description of a bill passes another Committee (Senate Finance), then the Senate Majority Leader writes his own bill without a transparent means for all Senators and the American people to participate in the process. Maybe there are no smoke filled rooms anymore in the Capitol, yet in these latte filled rooms this week, Senate leaders, emissaries of the Obama Administration, maybe a lobbyist or two and some select staff are writing Obamacare.
Why can’t we read the bill? Any Senator has the power to request that the Senate Clerk read any legislation. That may be the only means for the American people to understand what is actually in the bill.