With Bigger Numbers, Senate Dems Roll Coburn
by Josh Orton, Mon Jan 12, 2009 at 11:37:18 AM EST
Way back in July of last year, Senate Dems finally tired of Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn's use of "holds" to block legislation, so they bundled all the bills up into one package dubbed the "Tomnibus." With only a 1-seat Dem advantage at the time, the bill (which contains many land preservation measures) didn't pass.
But with a newly expanded majority, Dems wasted no time flexing some early muscle:
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, was sending a message with his decision to schedule the vote on Sunday. Democrats have been frustrated by Mr. Coburn's determination to hold up so many bills and the Sunday vote was intended to let Republicans know that Democrats are no longer going to go along easily.
A dozen Republicans did vote for the measure, which irritated Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, one of Mr. Coburn's chief allies.
"If my colleagues on my side continue to accept this, there's going to be no such thing as a Republican Party," he said.
It passed, 66-12.
While the Roland Burris fiasco has dominated early perception of the new Dem caucus, yesterday's work shouldn't be ignored. With Obama looking for as many votes as possible on the stimulus package, this early vote did more than warn Republicans of possible Sunday work - it provided a nice, concrete reminder of a new, expanded majority.