As Congress rushes to tie up loose ends before it leaves D.C. for a monthlong vacation, Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, vowed Thursday to slow the passage of any bill that adds to the deficit.
With a list of bills to get through, the Senate’s top watchdog said he would object to any bill that lawmakers tried to pass by unanimous consent, which would relieve senators from having their individual votes tied to their name.
“It’s an excuse to not do the hard work we were sent up here to do,” he said on the Senate floor. “So I’m putting my colleagues on notice: If you want to pass any bill that’s going to go by unanimous consent, you better find some waste somewhere to offset it with, or I will object.”
Mr. Coburn spoke specifically about the Veterans Affairs reform bill, which would add $10 billion to the deficit. The House passed the measure overwhelmingly on Wednesday and lawmakers have been eager to send the bill to the president before leaving for the month of August.
While it would be unpopular to face constituents without reaching a deal to help veterans, Mr. Coburn said he is willing to “take the heat” for slowing down the bill.
“I don’t mind taking the heat, no matter what the issue. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again. Our children and grandchildren are worth any amount of heat to create a future opportunity for them that’s at least as equal to what we’ve had,” he said.
By objecting to a unanimous consent request, Mr. Coburn would force senators to hold a roll call vote, which would force each lawmaker to vote and take responsibility for the budget-busting bill. The VA reform bill would still likely pass the Senate if a vote is held.