It probably takes a lot to provoke two-thirds of the senators in the United States, but it appears that our own Tom Coburn managed to do it.
Shocked, are you, dear reader? Well, the news comes from a spate of 1,200 or so stories written about the subject (according to Google), appearing apparently everywhere but here. Hmm, let's go with The New York Times.
According to the NYT, our Sen. Coburn " known as "Doctor No" for his penchant of procedurally blocking bills that contain any kind of spending he thinks is inappropriate " got a big slapdown from the rest of the Senate, which passed a bundle of 160 bills he'd been blocking.
The story said that the senators called the bill the "Tomnibus" after our senator from Muskogee, referring to the term for catchall bills, "omnibus."
According to the story, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was "sending a message" to Coburn and Senate Republicans that a lot of senators no longer wanted to deal with Coburn's tactic of putting a hold on bills, so they bundled bills he was opposed to and passed them all at once.
"(The) action in the Senate shows that the greatest threat to change is a Congress that is addicted to power, pork and the politics of the past," Coburn said in a Jan. 11 release. "In a time of economic turmoil, the United States Senate has bigger fish to fry than a pork-laden omnibus lands bill that puts parochial projects that spend $1 billion to rescue 500 salmon in California ahead of our serious economic challenges."
The umbrella bill passed 66-12. Among the items in the bill are sweeping environmental protection for Western wilderness.
According to the story, the bill claims 200 million acres of land for public use in nine states. It also adds an additional 1,000 miles of waterways to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System and 2,800 miles of hiking trails.
Was Coburn chastened by this action? That would be "no." What'd ya expect?
"I have no doubt that there are key, significant things that need to get done that are in this bill," he reportedly said. "But I will tell you, I am always going to be opposed to wasting money."
According to The Associated Press, the bill also designates Bill Clinton's boyhood home in Hope, Ark., as a national historic site. Heh.
"I am happy that after months of delay we will finally be moving forward," Reid reportedly said.
Some of the measure still faces more discussion and more votes, but this was considered the kickoff bill for the session.