It looks like the series of popular bills that Tom Coburn (R-Lesbians in the Bathrooms) has put holds on are going to be combined into a Coburn omnibus that should get a final vote next week. Sen. Reid's office is calling it the Advancing America's Priorities Act. They are a series of health care provisions, environmental provisions, scientific provisions, and homeland security provisions, all of them with broad bipartisan support. The Congressional Budget Office has debunked Coburn's ridiculous spin that these measures would increase the deficit; these aren't appropriations, but provisions to direct spending, so they don't add a dime to the total fiscal cost.
This bill will put Republican Senators in a bind:
Here, in no particular order, is a list of such Senators, and the legislation they partnered on:
Senator Thad Cochran - introduced - Stroke Treatment and Ongoing Prevention Act (S. 999/HR 477)
Sen. Christopher S. Bond - introduced - Vision Care for Kids Act (HR 507/S. 1117)
Sen. Sam Brownback- introduced- Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act (S. 1810/HR 3112)
Sen Domenici, Pete V - introduced - Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Reauthorization and Improvement Act (S. 2304/HR 3992)
Sen Vitter, David - introduced - Enhancing the Effective Prosecution of Child Pornography (S. 2869/HR 4136)
Sen Lugar, Richard G. - introduced - Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management Act (HR 1084/S. 613)
Sen Coleman, Norm - introduced - Torture Victims Relief Reauthorization Act (HR 1678/S. 840)
Sen Stevens, Ted - introduced - Ocean Exploration, Mapping & Research (HR 1834/HR 2400/S. 39)
Sen Snowe, Olympia J. - introduced - Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act (S. 950/HR 2342)
Sen Voinovich, George V. - introduced - Appalachian Regional Development Act Amendments of 2008 (S. 496)
Coburn blocked every one of those bills - and every one of them will be in Reid's package next week.
Republicans in the Senate played politics with their power as long as they could. But now they're very, very unpopular, and their party's brand is in the gutter. Putting politics over substance by standing with Coburn may have been possible for this bunch even a year ago.
I never put it past Republicans to hang together to the bitter end, but on this one it seems like they'll either see the light, or be ushered out the door. There's a reason, incidentally, that a bunch of them don't even want to be seen at their own party's convention. They'd rip the word "Republican" off the ballot if they could get away with it.