By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 17, 2009 ( – As even more new language continues to pile up in Sen. Harry Reid's massive manager's amendment to the health care bill, which is being constructed behind closed doors, the leader of the Senate Republicans slammed the Democrats for planning to hold a vote on a bill no one has seen yet.

“Here's 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 even seen,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in a release Thursday.  “That's right. The final bill we'll vote on isn't even the one we've had on the floor. It's the deal Democrat leaders have been trying to work out in private.”

McConnell questioned the Democrats' motives for continuing to rush “one of the most significant, far-reaching pieces of legislation in U.S. history” in an effort to have it passed by Christmas.  “This entire process is essentially a charade,” he said. 

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

McConnell pointed to recent poll results, consistent with the broad spectrum of data in recent weeks, showing that Americans in opposition to the current attempt at health reform vastly outnumber those in favor.  A Pew poll released Wednesday found that 58% of Americans who have heard a lot about the bills oppose them, while only 32% favor them.

The minority leader also compared the timeline of the massive 2,000+ page bill to other, more minor pieces of legislation, many of which had far more amendments offered and were granted more time for consideration. One example he gave was a 2002 energy bill that was considered over a period of 8 weeks with 158 amendments offered.

The current health care bill has been considered by the senate over 4 weeks, with only 21 amendments and motions offered.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to bring the bill to a vote by this weekend.

“This isn't an energy bill. This is an attempt by a majority to take over one sixth of the U.S. economy – to vastly expand the reach and the role of government into the health care decisions of every single American – and they want to be done after one substantive amendment,” he said.  “This is absolutely inexcusable.”

Senate Republicans yesterday launched the beginning of what they openly call a series of stall tactics to grind President Obama's health care juggernaut to a halt.  One of these involved forcing a read-through of a 767-page proposed piece of legislation. However, Senate Parliamentarian Alan Frumin allowed an objection by Senator Bernie Sanders (I – VT) to cut off the effort, despite the fact that Senate rules grant only a unanimous vote the power to end the reading.

Republicans resorted to the tactic after health bill author Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) refused GOP Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) request to require that any amendment considered by the Senate be offered 72 hours ahead of any vote, with a full cost report.

Senator DeMint (R-SC) told the Washington Times that the GOP's motives were founded in the belief that they are no longer able to work with Senate Democrats in good faith, and that Frumin's ignoring of Senate rules gave Democrats an unfair advantage.

“The problem we have, I think if you look at the last couple of weeks, we were working in good faith and the strategy they were using was one of bait switch,” said DeMint. 

“While we were debating a decoy on the floor, while they were developing another one in secret, so to continue to play along with this as if it's a legitimate process makes no sense.”

In a November speech, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-ME, expressed disgust with the Democrats' strategy of “artificially generated haste” over the health bill, to “ram it, to jam it” through the chamber.  Snowe, who has been known to side with Democrats on many issues, pointed out that solid social reform in America has always been a bipartisan effort.

“Every line and every word in this 2,000-page document matters. … When it comes to the subject at hand, the most consequential health-care legislation in the history of our country and reordering $33 trillion in health-care spending over the coming decade, surely, we can and must do better,” said Snowe.