One of the Senate’s most vociferous opponents of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has been Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who called the stimulus “the worst act of generational theft in our nation’s history.” Today, The Marine Corp Times revealed exactly how far Coburn was willing to go to undermine ARRA. It turns out Coburn has been the senator who has placed holds on several veterans benefits bills because he wanted to divert money from unspent ARRA funds on them:
Thirteen major military and veterans groups have joined forces to try to force one senator — Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma — to release a hold that he has placed on a major veterans benefits bill.
Coburn has been identified by Senate aides as the lawmaker preventing consideration of S 1963, the Veterans’ Caregiver and Omnibus Health Benefits Act of 2009, by using an informal but legal practice of putting a hold on a bill. [...]
In a letter sent Monday night to the Senate majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the 13 military and veterans groups ask the Senate to get on with it.
“It is essential that Congress act on this comprehensive measure without further delay,” the letter reads. “Thousands of disabled veterans with serious medical conditions and the family members who care for them are counting on this additional support.”
Steve Robertson, the legislative director for the veterans advocacy group The American Legion, met with Coburn’s staff about the holds on the bills and came away disappointed with their refusal to budge on the issue. “For a lot of family caregivers, delay is costing them their jobs and their savings. It’s having a big impact,” Robertson told the press. “They made it clear that Sen. Coburn sees this as using his rights as a senator to place a hold on a bill…I agree with that, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense to hold up a bill that would do a lot of good things for veterans that has cleared a committee and is ready for a vote.”
VoteVotes is circulating a petition against Coburn. VetVoice’s Richard Allen Smith writes, “There is no legitimate excuse Tom Coburn can make for holding up legislation to help Veterans and wounded warriors in need of care. He is simply playing politics with are nation’s heroes.”