Senator might stall votes on EPA, ethanol, other amendments

Senate votes slated for Thursday on controversial amendments to the small-business bill might be rescheduled for Friday or Monday, due to an ongoing disagreement between Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Senate leadership, according to Senate aides.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday he hoped to hold votes on up to 10 amendments to the bill, including one that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its power to regulate carbon emissions, another that would repeal some tax reporting requirements for businesses and another that would eliminate some government subsidies to ethanol farmers.

Coburn came to the Senate floor Wednesday night to express his frustration that some of his colleagues were blocking several of his amendments, which would cut billions of dollars in what he deemed to be wasteful spending from the federal budget.

“What is the deal?” Coburn asked on Wednesday night. “This is the Senate. You are expected to make tough votes.”

The rules of the Senate allow Coburn, or any sitting senator, to block proceedings until their grievances have been addressed.

“To say that a sitting senator can't offer amendment on $20 billion cuts in a $3 trillion budget,” said Coburn. “It strikes me that we have lost our balance.”

 “Let’s let this body do its work rather than not let it do its work,” Coburn said.