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 more than 120 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.
Julian Zelizer, a professor of the history of public affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, said that the move is most unusual when viewed in historical context. “I haven’t heard of something like this,” he said.
There are very few moving vehicles left in the Senate this session and seats on those rides are pricey. Two Democratic aides said that the details of which specific Coburn bills would be lumped into the package were still being debated. One leadership aide said that even some semi-controversial bills not uniquely associated with Coburn, such as the media shield law, could become part of it.