This point of order that the chair did not sustain was raised by Sen. Cornyn as part of the effort being made by Senate Republicans to delay consideration of the health care bill. Cornyn raised the point or order in an effort to prevent consideration of on an amendment offered to the major health care bill by Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV). This was a vote on a motion to table (kill) an appeal of the ruling of the Chair. \
During this period in late December of 2009, the Senate was spending most of its time in a heated debate over the health care legislation. The Democratic majority, which supported the bill, was making an effort to pass it before the Senate adjourned for the year. The Republican minority, which opposed the legislation, was using a variety of procedural tactics to slow down the consideration of the measure. Raising points of order such as this one against amendments to the health care bill was one of those delaying tactics.
Sen. Cornyn raised the point of order based on a Senate rule requiring that if “a senator proposes an amendment containing a congressionally directed spending item . . . which was not included (originally) in the bill (which it amends) . . . then as soon as practicable, the senator (offering the amendment) shall ensure that a list of such items . . . is printed in the Congressional Record (as soon as practicable).”
Cornyn first asked the Chair “whether this list of congressionally directed spending items (in the Reid amendment) . . . has been printed in the Congressional Record?” When the Chair responded that it “is not aware if such a disclosure has been made”, Cornyn raised the point of order that the amendment could not be considered because it violated Senate rules.
The Chair issued a decision that, since the provision in the Senate rules “is not enforceable (then) no point of order lies.” Cornyn immediately appealed the ruling. Sen. Baucus (D-MT), who chairs the tax-writing Finance Committee and was among those leading the support for the health care legislation, then moved to table (kill) Cornyn’s appeal of the ruling. There was no debate on the appeal.
However, the Senate had been spending most of its time in a heated debate over various aspects of the major health care legislation which Senator Reid was attempting to amend. The Democratic majority, which supported the legislation, was making an effort to pass the health care legislation before the Senate adjourned for the year. The Republican minority, which opposed the legislation, was using a variety of procedural tactics to slow down the consideration of the measure. These tactics included raising points of order, such as the one here, to delay legislative action.
Sen. Durbin, the Deputy Senate Majority Leader, was among those leading the support for the legislation and the Reid amendment. He had previously claimed that, after the changes made by the Reid amendment, “the basics of this (health care) bill remain.” Sen. Hutchison (R-TX) was among those leading the opposition to the bill and the Reid amendment. She had said during the course of the debate on the legislation: “There are many questions about what is in this (health care) bill . . . (and) people around the country wish for us to say: Let’s stop here. Let’s do this in a way that people know how it is going to affect them . . . .”
The vote on the waiver was 57-42. All fifty-seven “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Three other Democrats joined all thirty-nine Republicans present and voted “nay”. As a result, the appeal of the ruling was killed and the Senate continued to consider the Reid amendment.