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Finance Committee defeats GOP measure

From NBC's Ken Strickland and Mark Murray
During the mark-up of the Senate Finance Committee's health-care bill this morning, Senate Democrats were successful in defeating a GOP-sponsored amendment that would have delayed the bill's passage.

The vote on the measure was 11-12. All the Democrats except Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas voted against the amendment. Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine voted for it.

There are about 500 amendments for the committee to get through. On this one amendment, they debated about two hours.

The amendment, sponsored by GOP Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, would have required that the legislative language and the final cost analysis from the Congressional Budget Office be posted on the committee's Web site for 72 hours before the committee votes on the final bill.

While the amendment, on its face, may seem reasonable by providing transparency for Congress and the public to read the bill, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus said it would take at least two weeks for the staff to write the bill that way.

The practice at the Senate Finance Committee during the past 30 years -- under both the leadership of Democrats and Republicans -- is that the committee votes on bill using "conceptual language," or what some call "plain English." No other committee works under this practice. 

While conceptual language may have been the standard in the past, Republicans say this bill is too big, too important, and impacts too many people to handle it as business as usual.