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"Crossword Tommy" Coburn, scourge of bathroom lesbians everywhere, is notorious among his colleagues for being a serial abuser of the Senatorial "hold," used to block legislation from coming to the floor for a vote.

Lots of people have wondered how it is that Coburn is able to hold up so many bills, many of them extremely popular on both sides of the aisle. Well, the truth is that a hold by itself doesn't actually stop legislation. A lot of other factors have to come together to make it work, but that's a subject for another day.

Today, let's just enjoy the anticipation of seeing what happens when those other factors begin to unravel:

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is planning a "Coburn Omnibus" for July that would wrap most if not all of the bills held by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) into one large measure to be voted on by the Senate, according to a Coburn aide and two Democratic leadership staffers.

Coburn is blocking roughly a hundred bills that are generally non-controversial or have broad support. By placing a hold, Coburn prevents the bills from passing quickly through the Senate under a unanimous consent request. With floor time at such a premium, Reid would have trouble bringing up each bill for an individual debate and vote.

But in a stroke of legislative creativity that may have no precedent, Reid could lump all of the bills into one package and bring up the Coburn Omnibus for a single vote. Coburn can still object, but the broad popularity of the bills means that there would likely be more than enough support for veto-proof passage.


This would really be a terrific play by Reid. Individually, these bills -- though they enjoy popular, bipartisan support -- aren't by themselves a high enough priority for the use of Senate floor time to justify jumping through the hoops of Coburn's objections, motions to proceed, cloture votes, etc. But lumped together, they can all be moved at once, and lean on one another for the support of a large majority of Senators, many of whom have had e-friggin'-nuff of Coburn's shenanigans.

Kudos to Reid for the idea, and a backhanded thanks to Crossword Tommy for illustrating for us why, once upon a time at least, Senators didn't just put holds on everything under the sun.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Jun 26, 2008 at 05:45 PM PDT.

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