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Friday, July 25, 2008

A Thorn In Your Side, Senator?

This news is probably old, but it's worth repeating.

Oklahoma is on fire these days. First the State Legislature tries to get its act together concerning The 10th Amendment, now Oklahoma's Senator Tom Coburn is getting it right. Is it any surprise that it's making Harry Reid see red?
Coburn is blocking roughly a hundred bills that are generally non-controversial or have broad support. By placing a hold, Coburn prevents the bills from passing quickly through the Senate under a unanimous consent request. With floor time at such a premium, Reid would have trouble bringing up each bill for an individual debate and vote.

But in a stroke of legislative creativity that may have no precedent, Reid could lump all of the bills into one package and bring up the Coburn Omnibus for a single vote. Coburn can still object, but the broad popularity of the bills means that there would likely be more than enough support for veto-proof passage.
Here's the deal. Senator Coburn wants debate on each of the bills. These 100 bills have gone to a "unanimous consent" vote- meaning no debate, no discussion. Some of them are probably worthy of passage, or at least consideration.Others? Not so much.

Here's what Senator Coburn had to say about the Omnibus:
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the inspiration for Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) “Coburn Omnibus,” says he’s looking forward to debating the package but threatens a “rough time” if Reid doesn’t allow debate or amendments. “I don’t mind taking a week to debate them all,” he says.

“We’re holding a bill because we either want to amend it or we want to debate it. They don’t want to debate these issues because they know if they debate them they’re vulnerable. I’m happy if they want to debate them. There’s tons of waste — tons of new programs — [that] we don’t have the money for,” he says.

Coburn is worried that Reid won’t allow amendments or debate. “If he cuts off debate and doesn’t allow amendments, then what he does is he takes away and changes the tradition of the Senate, which says things ought to be debated and ought to be amended,” he says. “I think he’s fine doing what he wants to do, but he’s got to allow debate, and if he doesn’t allow amendments then he is bastardizing the process.”

The Oklahoma senator says that his chief objection to most of the bills is that they authorize more spending without offsetting it elsewhere. “They don’t want to do the hard work of getting rid of stuff that doesn’t work and putting in new stuff that does. They just want to spend money and say they did something and that’s the culture that’s got to change,” he says.

Coburn, a medical doctor, is also fairly certain he’ll lose in the end. “I’ll get beat. There’s no question I’ll get beat and I’ll get rolled, but at least we’ll have a debate. At least we’ll show the cowardice of people who want to steal the future from our kids in this country,” he says. “I don’t try to win things in Washington; I try to win them with the American public.” 
Well, Senator, you won it with me! It seems like many Republicans want to ride conservative coattails to Washington and then ignore the principles when they get there. Thank you, Senator, for meaning what you say and following through.

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with Senator Coburn. As of publication time, fourteen whole people agree with Senator Reid.

UPDATE: Yesterday, the Republicans in the Senate threatened to block all bills that aren't energy related, so the Omnibus bill might be stalled right now. Then the Republicans defeated a bill that would have punished speculators but do nothing about the supply problem. I guess the Republicans are dusting off their backbones for once, perhaps taking a cue from the fine folks north of the Red River. 

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