WASHINGTON - Sen. Bernie Sanders' plan to create a single-payer health insurance system won't get a vote this year.
The Vermont independent withdrew his amendment to the Senate's health care reform bill at 2:45 p.m. today after Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma requested that Senate clerks read aloud all 767 pages of the proposal on the Senate floor.
Sanders accused Republicans of trying to bring the U.S. government to a halt in a moment of crisis. He cited widespread support for his plan, which he said will eventually become law when Congress has the "courage" to stand up to those who "profit off human sickness."
"I was more than aware that that amendment would not win," he said. "But I am absolutely confident that this legislation or legislation like it will eventually become the law of the land."
Reading the entire text of Sanders' amendment was expected to take 10 hours. The clerks began at noon and could be seen on C-SPAN, trading places at the lectern. One stopped to take a drink of water.
Bill readings are usually waived. A request for one is considered a delaying tactic.
Coburn said in a statement today the reading "will provide a dose of transparency that has been lacking in this debate."
"I admire Sen. Sanders for his willingness to fight for publically what many advocate only privately - a single-payer health care system funded and controlled by bureaucrats and politicians in Washington," Coburn's statement said. "Every American should listen to the reading of this amendment and pay careful attention to its vote tally."
Sanders' amendment would establish a health insurance system regulated and funded by the federal government through payroll and income taxes but administered by states. The full amendment is posted on the Vermont independent's Web site at http://sanders.senate.gov.