Senate Democrats

Senator Coburn: The Roadblock to Progress

Once again, Senate Republicans are digging through the Senate rule book to find a novel way to obstruct the passage of critical legislation. This time it comes at the expense of our veterans.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn has thrown up a roadblock on the Veterans’ Caregiver and Omnibus Health Benefits Bill by using an informal, but legal practice of putting a bill on hold. Coburn wants the opportunity to offer amendments to pay for the new benefits that the bill creates, including improved and increased health care services for our veterans and caregivers.

Unfortunately, Coburn is no newcomer to stopping and stalling legislation.  In fact, the Senator from Oklahoma has been known to proudly wear the nickname ‘Dr. No.’ As Ryan Grim reported back in December 2007, "A typical bill moving through the Senate has a number of institutional hurdles to clear: subcommittee, committee, leadership and Coburn. It’s that last one that you won’t find in a textbook."

These delay tactics — witnessed this week on the unemployment extension bill — are preventing the Senate from passing legislation that will provide caregivers of veterans with health care, counseling, support and a stipend. This legislation also expands services in rural areas.  It ensures that veterans who are catastrophically disabled or who need emergency care in rural areas are appropriately charged for services.

In response to Coburn’s actions, VoteVets is circulating a petition against Coburn, asking him to release his hold on the bill. VetVoice’s Richard Allen writes, "There is no legitimate excuse Tom Coburn can make for holding up legislation to help veterans and wounded warriors in need of care. He is simply playing politics with our nation’s heroes."

Senator Mark Begich made a direct plea to Coburn on the Senate floor this morning, saying: "I call on my colleague to remove this hold and I ask [him] to remember as Veterans Day approaches, that whose who have served this country deserve better. They have earned it."