Just before the Senate vote on the first of three procedural motions to move its health care reform bill toward final passage, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) appeared to urge Americans to pray that a member of the majority caucus would not show up to vote, thus leaving the Democrats one vote shy of breaking the GOP filibuster:
COBURN: What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can’t make the vote tonight. That’s what they ought to pray.
As it turned out however, all 100 U.S. senators voted on the measure, which passed on a party-line 60-40 vote. This morning, the Senate health care reform bill jumped the second procedural hurdle, with all 60 senators in the Democratic caucus voting to pass the measure. However, only 39 Republicans voted against passage. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) was the Republican who missed the vote.
On C-Span this morning, a caller wondered if perhaps Coburn’s prayer request had “backfire[ed]” against his own party:
CALLER: Yeah doctor. Our small tea bag group here in Waycross, we got our vigil together and took Dr. Coburn’s instructions and prayed real hard that Sen. Byrd would either die or couldn’t show up at the vote the other night.
How hard did you pray because I see one of our members was missing this morning. Did it backfire on us? One of our members died? How hard did you pray senator? Did you pray hard enough?
While Barrasso didn’t answer the question directly, he said he didn’t know why Inhofe missed the vote. Both Coburn and Inhofe’s offices did not respond to inquiries from ThinkProgress for comment. Watch it:
When Coburn asked Americans to pray that a Senator miss these crucial health care votes, he never specified Republican or Democrat.
Roll Call reports that Inhofe “was absent to fly his wife home to Oklahoma in advance of the Christmas holiday but that he is headed back to Washington, D.C., for this week’s remaining votes.”