Coburn Bill Slated for 4 p.m.

Posted July 28, 2008 at 2:06pm

Some 35 bills that have been blocked by a fiscally conservative GOP Senator may finally get their chance to debut on the Senate floor this afternoon.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has scheduled a cloture vote for 4 p.m. on a package of bills that has been persistently blocked by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

But Coburn’s own colleagues — who he hasn’t necessarily agreed with on more than one occasion — may be unwitting allies in the Oklahoman’s battle to defeat the package.

They plan to follow through on their pledge to block any measures that don’t deal with high gas prices, which include the “Coburn Omnibus” that Reid crafted. But Republicans are mad that they are not being allowed to offer a multitude of amendments.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters early Monday afternoon that the most pressing legislative issue, in his view, is high energy costs and that Republicans will try to keep the Senate focused on the speculation bill.

“We need to do something important about [the price of gas at the pump] and then move on to other important things,” McConnell said.

Even on other issues, such as judicial nominees — a very popular subject with many GOP lawmakers — McConnell said that reducing gasoline prices is “sucking all the oxygen out of the air” and it is unlikely that the focus will be pulled away from energy.

Democrats charge that the Oklahoma Republican is holding up bills that are noncontroversial and drew huge votes from House Republicans or are co-sponsored by GOP colleagues in the Senate.

That, however, has not stopped Coburn from blocking the bills, which he primarily sees as wasteful spending or an unnecessary doubling of federal resources. Coburn, a fiscal conservative, has long fought to eliminate excessive spending.