Coburn’s Obstructionist Hypocrisy

In July, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) successfully derailed the “the so-called Coburn omnibus,” a package of nearly 40 uncontroversial bills that extended funding for cancer research, paralysis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease and crime prevention.

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) attempted to bring the measures to a vote piecemeal, only to be rebuffed by the senate’s “fly in the soup.” Watch it:

According to the Majority Leader’s office, Coburn had assured Reid that he would clear the measures, but once Reid reintroduced the bills, Coburn remained steadfast in his obstruction.


In this way, Coburn prevented the senate from voting on what the House passed with great margins: The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act (S.1183), the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Registry Act (S. 1382/HR 2295), the Melanie Blocker — Stokes MOTHERS Postpartum Depression Act (HR 20), the Stroke Treatment and Ongoing Prevention Act of 2008 (S.999), the Drug Endangered Kids Act (HR 1199/S. 1210) and the Emmett Till Unsolved Crimes Bill.

As the Wonk Room has noted, Coburn consistently abuses the Senate’s hold privilege to prevent the Senate leadership from bringing matters to a vote that “he just doesn’t like.” Coburn objects to the aforementioned bills on fiscal grounds, but he is far from consistent in his principles. During the 109th Congress, Coburn did not object to over $1.3 trillion in non-offset authorizations. In fact, as late as July, Coburn failed to hold the Appalachian Regional Development Act Amendments of 2007, which provided $575 million in non-offset authorizations and were supported by half of the Republican caucus.

UPDATE: Coburn has dropped his hold of the Emmett Till Unsolved Crimes Bill.