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Public Statements

Health Care Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, Senators on both sides acknowledge that the health care bill we are considering is among the most significant pieces of legislation any of us will ever consider--I think, I would argue, the most significant piece of legislation certainly in my time here. So it stands to reason we would devote significant time and attention to it.

Indeed, some would argue we should spend more time and attention on this bill than most--if not every--previous bills we have considered.

The majority, obviously, disagrees. Why? Because this bill has become a political nightmare--a literal political nightmare to them--as evidenced by more and more public opinion polls, including the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll out this morning. They know Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to it, so they want to get it over with as quickly as possible.

Americans are already outraged at the fact that Democratic leaders took their eyes off the ball, rushing the process on a partisan line that makes the situation even worse.

Americans were told the purpose of reform was to reduce the cost of health care. Instead, Democratic leaders produced a $2.5 trillion, 2,074-page monstrosity that vastly expands government, raises taxes, raises premiums, and wrecks Medicare. And they want to rush this bill through by Christmas? They want to rush this bill through by Christmas that does all of these destructive things. One of the most significant, far-reaching pieces of legislation in U.S. history, and they want to rush it.

Here is the most outrageous part. At the end of this rush, they want us to vote on a bill that no one outside the majority leader's conference room has seen yet. No one has seen it. That is right. The final bill we vote on is not even the one we have had on the floor of the Senate. It is the deal Democratic leaders have been trying to work out in private. That is what they intend to bring to the Senate floor and force a vote on before Christmas.

So this entire process is essentially a charade. But let's just compare the process so far with previous legislation for a little perspective.

Here is a snapshot of what we have done and where we stand on this bill.

The majority leader intends to bring this debate to a close as early as this weekend--4 days from now--on this $2.5 trillion mistake. No American who has not been invited into the majority leader's conference room knows what will be in the bill.

The bill has been the pending business of the Senate since last November--less than 4 weeks ago--but we have actually only started the amendment process 2 weeks ago--just 2 weeks ago on the amendment process.

We have had 21 amendments and motions--less than 2 a day.

So let's look at how the Senate has dealt with previous legislation, arguably of lesser consequence than this one.

No Child Left Behind in 2001: 21 session days over 7 weeks, 44 rollcall votes, 157 amendments offered.

The 9/11 Commission/Homeland Security Act in 2002: 19 session days over 7 weeks, 20 rollcall votes, 30 amendments offered.

The Energy bill in 2002: 21 session days over 8 weeks, 36 rollcall votes, 158 amendments offered.

Now, Madam President, this is not an energy bill. This is an attempt by the majority to take over one-sixth of the U.S. economy--to vastly expand the reach and role of government into the health care decisions of every single American--and they want it to be done after one substantive amendment--one large, substantive amendment. This is absolutely inexcusable.

I think Senator Snowe put it best on Tuesday. This is what she had to say Tuesday of this week. ``Given the enormity and complexity,'' Senator Snowe said, ``I don't see anything magical about the Christmas deadline if this bill is going to become law in 2014.''

And I think Senator Snowe's comments on a lack of bipartisanship at the outset of this debate are also right on point. Here is what Senator Snowe said in November of this year--late November:

I am truly disappointed we are commencing our historic debate on one of the most significant and pressing domestic issues of our time with a process that has forestalled our ability to arrive at broader agreement on some of the most crucial elements of health care reform. The bottom line is, the most consequential health care legislation in the history of our country and the reordering of $33 trillion in health care spending over the coming decade shouldn't be determined by one vote-margin strategies--surely--


we can and must do better.

Well, Senator Snowe is entirely correct.

The only conceivable justification for rushing this bill is the overwhelming--overwhelming--opposition of the American people. Democrats know the longer Americans see this bill, the less they like it.

Here is the latest from Pew; it came out just yesterday. A majority--58 percent--of those who have heard a lot about the bill oppose it, while only 32 percent favor it.

There is no justification for this blind rush, except a political one, and that is not good enough for the American people, and that is not justification for forcing the Senate to vote on a bill that none of us have seen.

Americans already oppose the bill. The process is just as bad. It is completely reckless and completely irresponsible.

Madam President, I yield the floor.

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