Coburn Blocks Disaster Relief Bill

Posted October 2, 2008 at 3:50pm

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is blocking movement on a billion-dollar disaster relief bill that Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) unsuccessfully tried to attach to the continuing resolution funding the federal government last week.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tried to get a unanimous consent agreement that would have allowed consideration of the Landrieu bill, which seeks $1.12 billion for farmlands that were ravaged by hurricanes and heavy flooding. But Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) objected on behalf of Coburn, saying the fiscally conservative Oklahoman, who regularly puts holds on bills that he believes unduly burden the federal purse, has placed a hold on that piece of legislation.

A Coburn spokesman said the Senator placed the hold because the nation is facing an economic crisis.

“This is a time for Congress to tighten its belt, not to spend $1.17 billion on a duplicative disaster bill. Sponsors should first pay for this new request by cutting other areas of the budget,” the aide said.

Last week, Landrieu threatened to filibuster the CR and force her colleagues to come in for a Sunday if she was not able to bring the bill to the floor, but Reid got her to back down on that threat and said he would do anything possible to bring the bill up.

A Landrieu aide said the Louisiana Democrat is frustrated by Coburn’s objection but is working with the GOP lawmaker to reach a resolution.