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The Donkey Congress is allergic to debate

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By Michelle Malkin  •  July 28, 2008 12:01 PM

Conservative stalwart Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint blew the whistle last week on a new report from the Congressional Research Service showing that 94 percent of bills passed in the Dem-controlled Senate have been rammed through without debate or vote.

Via CNS:

Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) dismissed Democratic claims of obstructionism and expressed outrage last week over a government report that shows the majority of bills that have passed in the Democrat-controlled Senate of the 110th Congress have done so without any debate or even a vote.

“The U.S. Senate has a nine percent approval rating, because the American people believe that much of our work is done in secret with no debate, no transparency and no accountability,” Coburn told reporters at press conference Wednesday at the Capitol.

“This report shows that the reality is worse than the public’s fears. Instead of encouraging open debate, I’m disappointed that Majority Leader Reid often chooses secrecy or demagoguery,” he added.

Coburn was referring to a non-partisan study released on June 10 by the government’s Congressional Research Service (CRS), which indicates that 855 of the 911 bills passed by the Senate of the 110th Congress have been streamlined by Democratic Party leadership with a procedural tactic known as Unanimous Consent (UC), which requires no debate or even a vote.

With the Senate’s traditional August recess about to start, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has repeatedly accused Republicans, however, and especially Coburn and DeMint, of blocking UC on legislation that he says is critical to the well-being of many Americans.

The world’s greatest deliberative body my you-know-what.

***

The CRS report is here (PDF).

From Sen. DeMint’s office:

The 855 bills that have been secretly passed spend more than $9 billion, though a final total is not available because many of the bills were rushed through before a cost analysis could be performed.

Senator DeMint: “It would surprise many Americans to learn that the ‘World’s Greatest Deliberative Body’ passes the overwhelming majority of legislation without any debate at all. Democrats think they are entitled to pass bills without debate or votes, and they’ve tried to ram them through right before recess to pressure us to give up. But, Senators shouldn’t fear debate on these important bills. It’s in the best traditions of our republic to demand the Senate actually do its job and have a public debate on bills that expand government and increase the burden on taxpayers. Senator Reid can complain all he wants, but Republicans represent millions of Americans whose voices are being silenced by Democrat strong-arm tactics.”

Dr. Coburn: “The U.S. Senate has a nine percent approval rating because the American people believe that much of our work is done in secret with no debate, no transparency and no accountability. This report shows that the reality is worse than the public’s fears. Instead of encouraging open debate, I’m disappointed that Majority Leader Reid often chooses secrecy or demagoguery. For instance, he has depicted my effort to reduce the number of bills that pass the Senate in secret by ten percent as ‘unprecedented obstruction.’ What is unprecedented and ahistorical, however, is the Majority Leader’s view that Senators should have a king-like right to pass massive spending bills in secret with no debate, no amendments and no recorded vote.”

The CRS report states, “[T]he vast majority of measures passed or agreed to by the Senate so far in the 110th Congress have not received formal parliamentary debate on the floor of the Senate.” This practice, known as “hotlining,” has traditionally been reserved for noncontroversial bills with little to no cost to the taxpayer, like the naming of post offices. However, the practice has been abused to sneak through large bills that cost the taxpayers billions of dollars and have significant policy implications.

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On another front, Sen. Coburn is battling the Senate Dem bingers–and the liberal media is taking notice. In the NYT today:

Congress has dealt for decades with catchall bills known as omnibus legislation. Now, for the first time, comes the Tomnibus.

Senator Tom Coburn, in his Capitol Hill office on Saturday, has “holds” on nearly 80 bills. “I take my oath seriously,” he said.

A product of Democratic frustration with the tactics of Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican and physician who has become the Dr. No of the Senate, the Tomnibus is a $10 billion collection of Coburn-blocked measures assembled by the Senate leadership in an effort to break his solitary grip on the legislative process.

Engineered by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, the bill includes 35 of the most irresistible-sounding measures stuck on the docket, including the Mothers Act and the Protect Our Children Act.

There are items to commemorate “The Star-Spangled Banner” and to try to curb pornography, cut drug use and help victims of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Officially known as the Advancing America’s Priorities Act, the catchall legislation includes a measure to improve life for victims of paralysis, which Mr. Reid calls the Superman bill in tribute to the late Christopher Reeve.

The obvious intent is to apply a little legislative Kryptonite and embarrass Mr. Coburn into dropping his procedural objections to the measures while highlighting his willingness to put roadblocks in front of bills that have support from all corners — a textbook case of what Democrats view as extreme Republican obstructionism.

Well, as they say, good luck with that.

“I am not a go-along, get-along guy if I think it is the wrong way to go,” Mr. Coburn said, not stating anything his peers did not already know. “I am O.K. taking the consternation of my colleagues. I take my oath seriously.”

Whines Reid:

“Why in the world does the Republican leadership allow itself to be bullied by the rogue far right of its caucus, which has perfected the art of stopping good bills that help good people?” Mr. Reid asked.

The Rogue Far Right.

Sign me up! Better yet: Sign more GOP senators up. Stat.

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