Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I understand where we are. I would make the following comments to my colleagues who have not been here quite as long as I have. Regular order, before they got here, was you could offer any amendment on any bill anytime you wanted. Since we have had the leadership that we have, we have changed that, and now we consider it abnormal that somebody wants to address a critical issue in our country on a bill, and we find that distasteful.
I will remind you that 92 percent of the people in this country think everybody involved in the FEHBP who is working for the Federal Government ought to be in the exchanges. To not allow a vote on an amendment is cowardly because it says: I do not want to vote on that issue.
So there is a very big difference from what we have heard said and what the reality has been--until 2006, the end of 2006 and the starting of the Congress in 2007. I think it is important.
I have several amendments to this bill, several that I think will make it much more compliant with what the Constitution says, and I will not offer them today until this logjam of lack of minority rights is relieved. But I do have some comments.
The intention of this bill is good. I appreciate what Senator Shaheen and Senator Portman have done. But I have some real differences of opinion about the effectiveness and the command and controls centered in Washington that come about through this bill.
If you actually read this little book called the U.S. Constitution, we are going down the same path again that says Washington knows best, because in this bill the Secretary is going to determine final plans, final efficiency standards--not the standards groups that are out there because the Secretary will have to do it.
So my hope is that we can get back to offering amendments on this bill--all the amendments that need to be offered, whether it is germane to the bill or not, as the Senate functioned for over 200 years. There should not be an issue that we cannot debate an amendment in the Senate at any time. That is the history of the Senate. That is what makes it a great body. That is what allows our Republic, our constitutional Republic, to function.
I would say I am disappointed that the majority leader does not want to have a vote on something that 92 percent of the people in this country agree with and that he is not allowing Senator Vitter to have his amendment to address an issue people are burned up over--creating something better for us than what the average American can get. It is a tin ear. We do not pay attention to the American public at our own risk.
I will not spend any more time. I have several amendments. I will try to offer them in the first part of next week.
I yield the floor.