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‘Dr. no’ strikes again

Gazette staff September 20th, 2011

What do parks, trails and museums have to do with the Federal Aviation Administration?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing at all … unless you’re the U.S. Congress.

Oklahoma U.S. Senator Tom Coburn recently got into a kerfuffle with Senate leadership when he blocked a bill that temporarily extended funding for the FAA and highway construction, according to a story from NPR.

Coburn’s problem with the bill was that part of it sent a proportionally small share of highway money to pay for bike paths, museums and roadside beautification, the NPR story stated, and Coburn believed the states should be able to choose whether to spend that money on beautification projects or bridge and highway repairs.

The FAA funding got thrown into the ideological pickle when the Senate, barely functioning as a branch of government at this point because it is unable to orderly decide on one issue at a time and resorts to short-term funding measures since it cannot pass long-term funding measures, combined the temporary FAA funding bill with the highway bill.

Coburn blocked the measure, at which point Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, at his passive-aggressive best, essentially called Coburn a dictator (without using Coburn’s name).

After days of negotiations, a deal was reached that allowed a vote on the measure, while also apparently agreeing to Coburn’s terms that on the long-term funding measure, it would be left up to states whether or not to spend the money on beautification or infrastructure.

The final vote on this “controversial” bill that nearly caused another panic about yet another FAA shut down (there was threat of a previous, partial one this year)? 92-6.

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09.22.2011 at 08:02 Reply

It's just easier to cut funding from Minnow programs than to go after the Whale that is defense spending. 

Perhaps someone should remind Senator Coburn that the road less traveled is the most rewarding.  But if he's content with doing the bare minimum, who are we to argue?  We're just taxpayers, voters, and constituants.  

I look forward to hearing about all this minute pork he trimmed from the budget in his next stump speech.