On Wednesday, as Democrats pushed forward to meet self-imposed deadlines, Senate Republicans tried to halt the healthcare debate by insisting that a 767-page amendment be read out loud in its entirety.
The amendment, introduced by Independent Senator Bernard Sanders from Vermont, would call for a single-payer, government-run public health system.
As the bill was being introduced, Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma objected to a request to bypass the reading of the amendment, a courtesy that is nearly always granted in Congress, TheHill.com reports. Sanders was soon forced to withdrawal the bill, which would have taken up to 10 hours to read aloud.
A Republican aide confirmed to CNN that GOP members had discussed the parliamentary tactic at their caucus meeting and had expected the move.
Coburn immediately defended the decision, blaming Democrats for trying to hurry a much needed debate. "It’s unfortunate that (Majority Leader Harry) Reid waited until the last minute to introduce his bill and now wants to rush it through the Senate," he said.
Reid quickly responded, stating that the tactic only pushed back other time-sensitive pieces of legislation.
"The only thing that Sen. Coburn’s stunt achieves is to stop us from moving to the [defense] appropriations bill that funds our troops," he told CNN.