Coburn Holds FAA Hostage With One-Man Filibuster

Agency could face a second shutdown
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2011 2:30 AM CDT
Tom Coburn Holds FAA Hostage With One-Man Filibuster
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., listens during a news conference on the debt ceiling on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 21, 2011.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The FAA could soon be shut down again, costing thousands of workers their jobs and the government $30 million a day in airline ticket taxes, all thanks to a single Republican senator. Tom Coburn is exploiting a Senate procedural rule requiring unanimous consent to switch from working on one bill to another. Coburn won’t consent to switch to a transportation bill that includes stop-gap FAA funding, and if it’s not passed by tomorrow, the agency shuts down, the AP reports.

Coburn objects to a provision in the highway section requiring states to spend money on “transportation enhancements” like bike lanes or tourist attractions. He says he’d support Harry Reid splitting off the FAA portion but that would require sending the bill back to the House. A frustrated Reid said Coburn was acting like “a dictator,” but Republicans say Reid has only himself to blame—he could have brought the FAA bill first, but instead tried to pass a disaster aid bill some Republicans opposed. (More Tom Coburn stories.)

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