Senate Approves Coburn Omnibus

The Senate on Thursday easily approved a massive, $10 billion package of 164 bills that had been the subject of a long standoff between Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

Senators voted 73-21 for the 1,294-page bill that was created by Reid from a collection of bills on which Coburn had placed a legislative hold. The Oklahoman is a well-known objector to the Senate's penchant for passing legislation with little scrutiny.

Known as a lands bill, the legislation would remove acreage in several Western states from oil or gas exploration, while authorizing studies for similar steps in other states. Democrats defend that as necessary to protect environmentally fragile lands, while Republicans say it will hurt energy production.

A grudge match developed between Reid and Coburn over the bill last year, and debate over it even forced a rare Sunday session last weekend.

Reid said the bill would "provide enjoyment for generations to come."

"The press reports it is the most significant environmental bill passed in more than a quarter of a century," he said.

Democrats and Republicans also battled over the bill's size and spending. Democrats described it as a collection of necessary legislation that will benefit states, but the GOP derided it as a expensive grab bag of earmarks.

"This bill is 1,294 pages of pork, land-grabs, and other special interest goodies," said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

-J. Taylor Rushing

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