Senate Dems Will Force Republicans To Debate Long Hours If They Obstruct

November 16, 2009 7:36 a.m.

The health care debate will be restarted in earnest tomorrow as Senate Democrats expect the Congressional Budget Office to score their version of the bill, which includes the opt-out public option.

But Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) today on a radio show laid out a schedule that would put the bill on Obama’s desk in January, another delay.

Harkin was not very optimistic about the timing of final passage, saying on the “Bill Press Radio Show” the Senate would need to work every weekend in December to pass the bill by Christmas, according to The Hill.As TPM reported yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has no qualms forcing a delay.

Harkin, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Democrats have mischief planned for the Republicans if they do that type of obstruction.

“If the Republicans want to stay here this Saturday and Sunday to read the bill, then let them stay here,” he said. “We are planning to do something that would require Republicans to be there 24 hours a day, and if they leave the floor, we’ll ask unanimous consent to dispense with the reading, and that’ll be the end of it.”

Harkin said he anticipates the score will be out tomorrow when the chamber returns for votes and party lunches. It’s been more than a week since the House narrowly passed its bill.

Amendments won’t start until after Thanksgiving, he said.

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