Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Health care monstrosity - by law - could have been postponed and possibly blocked?

On January 18, 2007, the Senate Ethics Reform bill was brought to a vote by Sen. Harry Reid. The aforementioned legislation requires, among other things, that Senators who submit earmark requests on a bill be identified as the sponsor of their requests on a publicly accessible congressional website at least 48 hours before the item comes to a vote [Tile V (Sec. 521)]. The bill passed 96 to 2 and was signed into law by President George W. Bush in September of 2007.

Sen. John Cornyn cited the aforementioned legislation while discussing the pending health care reform bill in a blog-post on Wednesday:
I raised a Point of Order on the Senate floor along with Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, today regarding the possible violation of Senate rules in refusing to disclose a list of the earmarks included in the Reid health care bill and the names of the Senators who requested each earmark.

Senate Rule #44, created by the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 [the Ethics Reform bill], requires bill sponsors to publicly disclose earmarks. Senate Democratic Leadership continues to refuse to do this. The motion was rejected on near party line basis. We’ve found that Leader Reid has not complied with his own public disclosure rules...
Here's what the Ethics reform bill states[PDF file page 26]:
1. (a) It shall not be in order to vote on a motion to proceed to consider a bill... unless the chairman of the committee of jurisdiction or the Majority Leader or his or her designee certifies - (1) that each congressionally directed spending item, limited tax benefit, and limited tariff benefit, if any, in the bill... has been identified through lists, charts, or other similar means including the name of each Senator who submitted a request to the committee for each item so identified; and (2) that the information in clause (1) has been available on a publicly accessible congressional website in a searchable format at least 48 hours before such vote.
Question: Have all the requested earmarks - tied to the health care bill - and the names of the senators who requested these earmarks, been identified through lists, charts etc.? Has all this information been available on a publicly accessible congressional website in a searchable format at least 48 hours before the senate is to vote on the bill [Thursday]?

Case in point: The senate bill contains a $100 million earmark for an unnamed health care facility. No one could ascertain who the intended recipient of the earmark was until Sen. Christopher Dodd - who is currently facing a difficult re-election campaign - told the AP that he had requested the earmark for construction of a hospital tied to the University of Connecticut.

Who knows what other hidden earmarks are lurking within this 2000 page health care monstrosity!

Nevertheless, it would stand to reason that if any additional earmarks - and names of the senators who sought out these earmarks - have not been identified both on lists, charts etc. and on a publicly accessible congressional website [in a searchable format] as of Tuesday, Dec. 22, a senate vote on the health care bill, by law, can not proceed [on Thursday].

Unless all of the above has been confirmed and verified, Republican lawmakers should not, and can not allow this vote to proceed. It is incumbent upon them to see to it that the rule of law is upheld - or they will have been derelict in their duty to both their constituents and the American people.

Is it too late to call off this vote?

For the latest update as of January 12, 2009, click here.

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