This is not normal.
The Senate is currently reading a 767-page amendment after Democratic Sen. Max Baucus refused to consider a request by Republican leadership to give the American people 72 hours to read any changes to the Senate health care bill.
This is what Senators do when... well, they hardly ever do it. Sen. McConnell forced a read of the Democrats' cap-and-trade bill after Democrats refused to move President Bush's circuit court nominees in June of 2008, but procedural hang-ups rarely, if ever occur, and it's too early to know what this one means.
It could be a precursor to full-out war, where Republicans invoke every procedural hang-up in the books and invoke the wrath of the entire Democratic Party. Or it could just be a one-time thing. Whatever the case, Senate Republican leaders say they're fully united behind this decision, and are willing to invoke more procedural war. Here's Sen. Jim DeMint on Twitter:
If Reid won’t slow down this debate, we will do it for him. Sen. Tom Coburn
of Oklahoma had made the original request for the 72-hour window to Baucus, and neither Senator has come out with more information on whether they'll change their position as a result of this move. The only way the Senate can be moved to stop reading the amendment is if Coburn himself retracts his original request.
It took 18 minutes for the clerk to get through the table of contents. Current estimates for the time it will take for the clerk to read the entire amendment is eight to twelve hours.