On the Spot (CNSNews.com) - Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) dismissed Democratic claims of obstructionism and expressed outrage last week over a government report that shows the majority of bills that have passed in the Democrat-controlled Senate of the 110th Congress have done so without any debate or even a vote.
“The U.S. Senate has a nine percent approval rating, because the American people believe that much of our work is done in secret with no debate, no transparency and no accountability,” Coburn told reporters at press conference Wednesday at the Capitol.
“This report shows that the reality is worse than the public’s fears. Instead of encouraging open debate, I’m disappointed that Majority Leader Reid often chooses secrecy or demagoguery,” he added.
Coburn was referring to a non-partisan study released on June 10 by the government’s Congressional Research Service (CRS), which indicates that 855 of the 911 bills passed by the Senate of the 110th Congress have been streamlined by Democratic Party leadership with a procedural tactic known as Unanimous Consent (UC), which requires no debate or even a vote.
With the Senate’s traditional August recess about to start, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has repeatedly accused Republicans, however, and especially Coburn and DeMint, of blocking UC on legislation that he says is critical to the well-being of many Americans.
Coburn and DeMint have a reputation for reading and objecting to bills that would have otherwise passed without debate or objection, Bryan Darling, director of Senate relations for the conservative Heritage Foundation, told CNSNews.com.
Reid has also objected to a procedural tactic know as filibuster, which Republicans have used to block legislation they oppose.
“I had out here earlier today our Velcro chart, 79 [Republican] filibusters,” said Reid on June 25. “Is it any wonder that the House seats that came up during the off-year went Democratic? Is it any wonder that the State of Mississippi sent us a Democratic House Member? ... It is no wonder because they see what is going on over here.”
Reid was referring to a flip chart that the Democrats use to tally the number of GOP filibusters. As of Friday, July 25, there were 85 Republican filibusters, according to Reid’s press office.
On Thursday, Reid introduced the Advance America's Priorities Act, which is nicknamed the “Coburn Omnibus” because it patches together 40 bills, many of which Coburn has already stopped from passing through the Senate by Unanimous Consent.
Reid’s press secretary, Jim Manley, told The Hill on June 27 that the omnibus is a reaction to Coburn’s obstruction.
"Look what happened last time we did this: Sen. Coburn held up action on dozens of bills for narrow, personal reasons, demanding debate and four amendments,” said Manley.
“These bills were held up for months. The Senate had to waste precious time to allow him to offer a few amendments. That is not debate and amendment. It is abuse, obstruction and delay," he said.
"Things have gotten so bad that Republican senators have approached Reid to ask that their bills be included in the package," Manley added.
But Coburn said on Wednesday that forcing costly bills before Congress right before a recess is typical of the Democratic leadership’s approach to legislating.
“They [Democrats] have tried to ram them [bills] through right before recess to pressure us to give up,” said Coburn. “But senators shouldn’t fear debate on these important bills.
“It’s in the best traditions of our republic to demand the Senate actually do its job and have a public debate on bills that expand government and increase the burden on taxpayers. Senator Reid can complain all he wants, but Republicans represent millions of Americans whose voices are being silenced by Democrat strong-arm tactics,” he added.