Coburn, Reid Spar Over Sharks, ‘Great Cats’ and the Deficit

Posted September 29, 2010 at 9:56am

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) traded partisan jabs on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, with Reid offering a series of conservation bills aimed at protecting sharks and “great cats,” among other creatures, and Coburn complaining about the costs.

Both chambers are scrambling to get out of town, and GOP aides said Coburn will not block a continuing resolution — a must-pass piece of legislation to keep the government from shutting down — expected to move later in the day.

However, Coburn said he will object to any agreements on other bills unless he can reach an agreement with Reid on moving some Republican bills.

Reid tried Wednesday morning to pass five conservation bills in quick succession without roll-call votes — including measures aimed at protecting sharks, sea otters and “great cats.”

In a floor speech, Coburn argued it is inappropriate for the Senate to pass bills that would cost money given the size of the deficit.

“I’m simply amazed that when we’re borrowing $4.2 billion a day … we have unanimous consent requests to move to things that spend more money. Money that we don’t have that we’re going to borrow from the Chinese or the Russians,” Coburn said.

Coburn is seeking agreement to pass a series of GOP bills, including gun rights legislation aimed at veterans, two bills designed to punish federal and Congressional employees who cheat on their taxes, an earmark transparency bill and a bill changing how gun manufacturers are taxed.