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Coburn’s Latest Counterpunch

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Monday attacked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) latest attempt to break Coburn’s use of filibusters and holds to stymie legislation, arguing Reid’s plan to move a controversial package of public land bills during the upcoming lame-duck session is a waste of time.

Reid has announced that he will bring the package of bills to the floor during next week’s session. Coburn and other lawmakers have blocked the measures individually for a variety of reasons, and Reid is hoping that by packaging them together he can win enough support to get them through.

But Coburn, who has engaged in similar battles with Reid on other legislation this year, said the Senate should spend the period trying to fix the economy.

“The Senate should devote its full attention to our economic crisis, not a lower-priority and controversial lands bill. It’s unlikely anyone within the current administration or President-elect Obama’s transition team is looking to this bill to get our economy moving again,” he said in a statement.

Coburn’s office also released a letter signed by representatives from a 100 conservative organizations, calling on lawmakers to oppose Reid’s plan to push the land bills during the lame-duck session.

“As a matter of principle, property rights should be protected by recognizing the right of citizens to utilize and prosper from the land in this country,” the letter said. “Legislation should never arbitrarily attempt to seize land from the public and restrict its use, as the omnibus package would. We urge you to stand up and reject Senator Reid’s effort to force this larded-up land grab down taxpayers’ throats,” the groups say in the letter.

The battle over the lands bills is the latest in a series of fights between the two pugnacious lawmakers. Coburn’s use of the Senate rules to frustrate Reid’s legislative agenda often times has enraged the Democratic leader, while Coburn has chafed at Reid’s efforts to move relatively minor bills quickly through the chamber.

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