Paul  Weyrich

The idea that Senator Coburn is talking about the traditions of the Senate is ridiculous. Look what happened last time we did this. Senator Coburn held up action on dozens of bills for narrow, personal reasons, demanding debate and four amendments. These bills were held up for months; the Senate had to waste precious time to allow him to offer a few amendments. Each amendment failed by overwhelming bipartisan margins (63, 76, 67, 73 votes against), and the final bill passed 91-4 (Coburn, DeMint, Vitter and Inhofe being the only Nos). That is not debate and amendment; it is abuse, obstruction and delay.

Jim Manley, meet Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT). Sanders has been insisting upon fast-track consideration of his bill to vastly increase taxpayer subsidies for heating oil, which is important to his New England State. Implicit in Sanders' demand is a threat to obstruct and delay other bills until his concerns are satisfied.

Given that polls suggest a bigger Democratic majority in the 2009 U.S. Senate, Reid's interest in curtailing the over two century-old power of Senate minorities to have their interests taken into account may be obvious.

Were Reid to have the unchecked powers of a latter-day Lyndon B. Johnson during a Democratic Administration, the leftist dream of another burst of Great Society-style legislation would be close to fruition: national health care, amnesty for illegal aliens, card-check unionization and every other plank of their agenda nearly would be unstoppable.

Yet it is hardly in the interest of leftist Senators like Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy (D-MA) or Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) to be reduced to rubber stamps for the latest ideas from the White House.

Should the Senate pass Reid's "Coburn Omnibus," it will be crossing a procedural Rubicon from which there is no turning back.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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