From THINK PROGRESS ECONOMY:
Until late this afternoon, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) was single-handedly blocking the transportation bill that would temporarily reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, keep 80,000 people in their jobs, and avoid another costly shutdown like the one that occurred in August. Coburn had said he was blocking the bill due to the “indefensible threat to public safety” caused by a provision in the bill meant to increase trees and bike paths alongside roadways.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had repeatedly chided Coburn, saying “the junior senator from Oklahoma” was acting like “a dictator.” Coburn reportedly removed his block of the bill this afternoon, but not before several Republican senators joined in that criticism, urging Coburn to relent on his blockade so the Senate could vote on the transportation package and avoid another shutdown [...]
Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who blasted her Republican colleagues and said the August shutdown was “not honorable,” joined [Illinois Sen. Mark] Kirk, saying she wanted the package to “pass without any delays. It’s too costly.” She was echoed by Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada and the Senate GOP’s Conference Chair, Lamar Alexander (TN), who said simply, “We need an FAA extension.”
The August FAA shutdown was costly for both workers and the government. For nearly two weeks, 4,000 FAA employees were involuntarily furloughed and the government lost more than $200 million a week in tax revenues.
From THE HUFFINGTON POST:
WASHINGTON — The Senate narrowly averted another shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration Thursday, passing a temporary funding bill that Democrats saw as evidence Republicans are feeling heat from the public over obstructionist tactics.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) had threatened to block the bill after the GOP-led House added it to a larger temporary extension of highway funding that was set to expire on Friday.
Coburn argued that the part of the highway bill that funds road beautification was wasteful pork, and wanted it stripped.
A Bloomberg poll released Thursday found that the public is laying the bulk of the blame for such governmental gridlock on the GOP, with some 45 percent of Americans saying so.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued that GOP leaders were beginning to understand that.
“The public sent a message after the debt-ceiling debate. They said they didn’t want brinksmanship. We’re beginning to see that,” Schumer said, noting that the House sent the FAA and highway bills over without adding any poison pills or dramatic cuts.
Although Coburn backed down, Schumer argued that GOP leaders need to do a better job reining in lawmakers like Coburn and Tea Party leaders like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).
“If the Republican leader were to say to Tom Coburn, ‘I am not giving you the votes, you don’t have 40 other colleagues to go with you,’ he would stop doing these things,” Schumer said. “But every time a Sen. Coburn or a Sen. DeMint wants to hold everything up, they have the tacit backing of his party and his leadership, so they’re all holding this up in a certain sense.”
“The brinksmanship that they exercised on the debt ceiling and the negative reaction to it seems to have given them second thoughts,” he added.