Idaho's two senators back health care vote delays

McClatchy NewspapersOctober 8, 2009 

WASHINGTON -- Both of Idaho's senators are joining the call to give all legislation a cooling off period.

The proposal, born of the health care debate, requires that legislation be posted in a searchable form on the Internet for 72 hours before the Senate votes on it. It would apply to committee votes as well as final votes on the Senate floor.

"When you are legislating you should have the language of the bill in front of you as you are debating it, analyzing it and voting on it," said Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, who on Wednesday joined the proposal's sponsor, Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., at a news conference.

The 72-hour waiting period is supported by other Senate Republicans, including Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, who likes the idea but was unable to attend the news conference.

The idea was first floated by Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, which has been working on the details of a bill that overhauls the country's health care system. Democrats accused Republicans of introducing the 72-hour rule in an effort to drag their feet on the health care debate.

But some moderate Democrats agree with the idea, and they urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday to consider the 72-hour rule on health care legislation. Eight Democrats signed a letter saying that such a rule would give their constituents an opportunity to evaluate the proposal and let their representatives in Washington know what they think about it.

They may have helped the case for the resolution, Bunning said.

"President Obama campaigned on a platform of transparency," he said. "This is a chance to deliver on transparency."

Crapo said that at health care town halls and other public events in August, people had a common question: "Have you read the bill?"

"Imagine their reaction when, in cases like this we have to tell them, 'Not only have we not read the bill, in the Finance Committee, we will be voting on a concept paper and not legislative language,'" he said.

Idaho's entire congressional delegation is now behind the idea. Last month, Rep. Mike Simpson, a Republican, and Rep. Walt Minnick, a Democratic, came out in support of a similar measure in the House. The House proposal would require all legislation to have a 72-hour review before a floor vote.

Simpson also has cosponsored a GOP resolution that would require a one-month waiting period before voting on any completed health care legislation, to allow time for public review.

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