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Vitter's View: Ensuring a 72-Hour Review of Health Care Legislation


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The health care debate going on in homes across America and on Capitol Hill has been lengthy, heated and complicated, and as Congress moves closer toward passage of a massive and sweeping health care reform bill, it's important that all of us have the opportunity to review this bill and get an idea of how it will impact our lives.

I traveled throughout Louisiana over the August recess and held more than 20 town hall meetings specifically focused on health care so that I could hear from you about your thoughts and concerns over the bill. And the majority of the people I heard from this August are concerned about empowering bureaucrats and politicians to make health care decisions for our families. I agree that this is not the direction we should be headed -- we should not put government between doctors and their patients.

To ensure that we are doing all that we can to stop government-run health care, I have been studying carefully the details of the proposed legislation and its potential impact on Louisiana families. But as proponents of government-run health care have pushed their legislation forward, they have moved multiple bills through multiple House and Senate committees, creating great confusion as to what the final product will include. And as the debate moves to the floor of the House and Senate, the legislation will be changed further still before it comes up for a vote.

The fluid nature of this process -- much of it happening behind closed doors -- means that the likelihood is high for damaging provisions to be slipped in without anyone else's knowledge, making it critical that we have ample time to review the final product.

That's why I joined U.S. Sens. Jim Bunning, Jim DeMint, Mike Crapo, Mike Johanns, John Thune and Jim Risch in introducing a resolution that would change Senate rules to require all legislative matters, along with a Congressional Budget Office estimate of their cost, to be made publicly available for 72 hours before being considered on the Senate floor or in committee.

I've always said that 1,000 plus page bills passed in a blur are often riddled with mischief and consequences that often don't come to light until well after the bill is signed into law. This rule change is necessary and important so that all members -- and the public have a fair amount of time to evaluate the cost and language of the bill. And it is especially important in the case of health care reform where the bill could affect one-sixth of our economy. If the bill's authors think it is good policy for the American people, the least it should do is be able to pass the 72-hour smell test.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts on the 72-hour rule and other issues. Please contact me with your ideas at any of my state offices or in my Washington office by mail at U.S. Senator David Vitter, U.S. Senate, 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510, or by phone at 202-224-4623. You can also reach me on the web at

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