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Coburn Joins the Blockade

September 29, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Jim DeMint’s [R, SC] decision to block all bills not cleared by his office by last night isn’t the only thing keeping the Senate from following up on the 372 House-passed bills that are scheduled to die in a few weeks without action. From The Hill:

The feud between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) flared up again Wednesday over Coburn’s objection to a bill protecting sharks.

The shark legislation, which deals with a prohibition on the harvesting of shark fins, was one of several bipartisan bills intended to protect wildlife that drew objections from Coburn on Wednesday.

[…]

The fight began when Reid asked for unanimous consent to approve the Crane Conservation Act [H.R.388], marine mammals rescue assistance legislation [H.R.844], the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act [H.R.411], the Shark Conservation Act [H.R.81] and the Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act [H.R.556]. All of the bills have already passed the House.

According to The Hill, Sen. Coburn said he objected to these bill because “the Senate should be working on ways to lower the federal deficit.”

Bills pass in the Senate under unanimous consent all the time. It’s a quick process — assuming there is no objection or hold — and, in fact, the Senate has been passing dozens of bills each night this week under unanimous consent without being blocked by Coburn. These animal conservation bills wouldn’t increase direct spending, so why is Coburn objecting today when last night he let 20 bills go through on unanimous consent last night?

UPDATE: Coburn and DeMint are also teaming up to block a bill that would sell land in D.C. to a a group looking to build a Women’s History Museum (H.R.1700).

Pictured above are shark fins for sale in a Chinese medicine shop.

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