On Monday the Senate Finance Committee unveiled the legislative text of S. 1796 — dubbed “America’s Healthy Future Act” — revealing to fans of legislative “bloatware” a new one for the record book!
Not only does this latest entry in the Congress League’s 111th season “monster bill” competition outstrip all other current contenders in the Health Division, it even eclipses the previous all-time division titleholder.
At a staggering 1,502 pages, the Finance Committee bill dwarfs the Senate HELP Committee’s 839 page bill (S.1679), and is nearly one-and-a-half times the size of this season’s closest divisional competitor, the 1,018 page House “Tri-Committee” bill (H.R. 3200).
However, what really has Congress League fans talking is that, for the first time in fifteen years, a team has set a new all-time division record for gigantic, unintelligible, unaffordable, over-regulatory, federal legislation.
Indeed, the big news is that S. 1796 has dethroned the previous all-time champion in the League’s Health Division — the 1993 Clinton “Health Security Act” (S.1757, 103rd season). For nearly a decade and a half, the record set by the 1,364-page “Clinton Bill” — or “the doorstop,” as health policy experts, many of whom still keep souvenir copies on their bookshelves, affectionately know it — stood unchallenged. Not any more. With its extra 138 pages of heft, the Finance Committee bill beat the old Clinton bill record by a full ten percent!
Furthermore, when this Congress League season is over — and the record keepers have finished checking their statistics — S. 1796 may end up setting other records as well. With still a year to go in the current season, many fans would now not be surprised if it ended with the Senate Finance team taking home the League trophy for the season’s biggest piece of damaging legislation.
It is just another fascinating turn in what is proving to be one of the most exciting seasons ever in Major League Legislating.
It started early, when in February teams from the Appropriations Division turned in an impressive performance with their 758 pages of pork-riddled, deficit expanding, special-interest-feeding “Stimulus” legislation (H.R. 1).
But by July the House Energy and Commerce Committee team had vaulted to the top of the league tables with a stunning 1,427-page “Cap and Tax” energy bill (H.R. 2454) containing breathtaking new levels of regulation and economic damage. It was a virtuoso performance that impressed even the most jaded observers and left fans of other teams forced to admit that this season’s trophy was clearly E&C’s to lose.
Now, in October, all that has changed. The Finance Committee bill has jumped into first place, but it only holds a 75-page edge over the still-pending energy bill. Meanwhile, rumors persist that the “Harry Reid and the Chamber of Secrets” team plans to put out yet another health care bill with potential to be a title contender. There are even scattered reports that the House Speaker’s team may try to bulk-up the Tri-Committee bill to get it back in the running — though adding the extra 500 pages that would be needed to make it competitive in this newly super-charged contest could prove difficult.
What it all adds up to are lots of fans and League officials excited by the prospect that the second half of this season could offer a pennant race to remember!