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Coburn Denies Responsibility: ‘A Hold On A Bill Is Not Blocking A Bill’

By Igor Volsky on July 22, 2008 at 6:15 pm

"Coburn Denies Responsibility: ‘A Hold On A Bill Is Not Blocking A Bill’"

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Yesterday, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) took to the floor to protest Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) attempts to overcome conservative holds on popular bipartisan legislation by wrapping “many of the bills into one large measure to be voted on by the Senate.” Coburn, who currently has holds on about 80 bills, argued that ‘holding bills’ — a technique which allows senators to “object to bringing a bill or nomination to the floor for consideration” — actually improves the democratic process and is in the “tradition of the senate”:

A hold on a bill is not blocking a bill from coming to the Senate floor…So if you’re holding a bill because you’re saying ‘I don’t agree with unanimous consent,’ which means ‘I don’t agree that we should not debate, I don’t agree that we should not amend, and I don’t agree that the public shouldn’t have a recorded vote on this bill,’ that does nothing to stop the bill from coming to the floor….Debate—full, open, honest debate—is great for this country.

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In his three short years in the senate, Coburn has earned the reputation of “a fly in the soup,” blocking many bills which are “non-controversial, bipartisan bills that he just doesn’t like.” In fact, despite his assertions, many of the bills he’s obstructing have bipartisan support and have been subject to debate and the amendment process:

Bill Name House Vote Republicans Voting Yes
Amendments Offered In Committee
Postpartum Depression (S. 1375/HR 20) 382-3 176 1 offered in House, 1 adopted
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Registry Act (S. 1382/HR 2295) 411-3 187 2 offered in Senate, 0 adopted
Drug Endangered Kids (HR 1199/S. 1210) 389-4 180 1 offered in Senate, 0 adopted
Enhancing Child Pornography Prosecution (S. 2869/HR 4136) 416-0 192 1 offered in House, 1 adopted
PROTECT Our Children Act (S 1738/HR 3845) 415-2 188 1 offered in House and Senate, Both adopted
Funding for victims of torture (HR 1678/S 840) 418-7 189 None offered
Preservation of Records of Servitude, Emancipation, and Post-Civil War Reconstruction (HR 390) 414-1 190 1 offered in House and Senate, Both adopted
Ocean Exploration, Mapping & Research (HR 1834/HR 2400/S. 39) 359-49 139 3 offered and adopted in House and 2 offered and adopted in Senate

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