At least one pundit has equated Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn to a "skunk" recently " and, no, gentle readers, that's not a reference to his hair.
As part of his hold on dozens of bills that would increase spending without cutting costs, Coburn is "the man most responsible for obstructing" a bill that would reinvigorate investigations into unsolved civil-rights-era murder cases, according to The Associated Press.
If passed, the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007 would provide $10 million a year for a decade to the Justice Department to revamp the pre-1970 cases. The measure's named after a black teen who was murdered in 1955 following accusations he whistled at a white woman. His killers were never convicted.
"The bill should have passed a long time ago," said Rita Bender, the widow of a civil rights organizer killed in 1964, to AP. "Every indication is that if it were brought to the floor and voted on there would be enough votes to pass it."
No kidding: The measure even passed the House 422-2 in June. Oklahoma's Republican Reps. Tom Cole, Mary Fallin and Frank Lucas, and Democratic Rep. Dan Boren, gave it their aye, according to www.opencongress.org.
Coburn's hold on the measure and others is possible via procedural maneuvers during the pre-Christmas rush to finish the session. AP reported Coburn challenged the Senate to bring the bill to the floor, if it's so important, but leaders have avoided the potentially lengthy route that could yield a weaker bill.
The situation has afforded Coburn a measure of power, although he told Bloomberg.com he isn't "trying to be in the driver's seat." Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at D.C.'s American Enterprise Institute, admitted to the publication that Coburn and other senators who individually are "willing to be the skunk at the garden party" gain "a lot of leverage."
We at CFN know the tune " "you see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself" " but we're not sure it should be a senatorial jingle.