How times have changed. Senator Byrd (D), 4/5/2001 (video), transcript:
The Democratic Leadership pleaded with me at length to agree to support the idea that the Clinton Health Care Bill should be included in that year’s reconciliation package.
They came to my office on the floor below. President Clinton got on the phone and called me also and pressed me to allow his massive health care bill to be insulated by reconciliations protection. He called me on the telephone.
I felt that changes as dramatic as the Clinton health care package which would affect every man, woman, and child in the United States should be subject to scrutiny. I said Mr. President I can not in good conscience turn my face the other way. That’s why we have a Senate, to amend and debate freely. That health bill, as important as it is, is so complex, so far reaching that the people of the country need to know what’s in it. And moreover Mr. President, we Senator’s need to know what’s in it before we vote.
And he accepted that. He accepted that and thanked me and we said goodbye.
I could not, I would not, and I did not allow that package to be handled in such a cavalier manner. It was the threat of the use of the Byrd rule. Reconciliation was never, never, never intended to be shield, to be used as a shield, for controversial legislation.
Even ignoring the un-Constitutionality of the bill – which the Senators have sworn to protect and defend – the Democrat Senate should be ashamed of their mob-like, thugish behavior. They are an utter disgrace to the Senate.