Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), for her part, expressed outrage that Coburn never objected to the building of a water treatment plant, air traffic control tower and roads in Afghanistan and Iraq, but is now demanding that money designated for such projects in the U.S. be offset with cuts in wasteful spending in other parts of the federal budget.
“They are holding up the FEMA bill, the highway bill, the FAA bill, and it’s wrong,” she said, referencing a bill that is in line behind the FEMA bill for floor action in the Senate. “I never heard them say strike that road we are building in Afghanistan.”
Boxer also said that a part of the highway bill that Coburn objects to, which mandates that some funds be used for highway beautification and building bike paths, is intended to save pedestrian lives, and vitally important for commuter safety.
“It [the money] is about saving lives,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also defended the provision on grounds that bicycle paths would help Americans consume less gasoline.
“The issue he has presented is a little unusual,” said Reid on Thursday morning. “He says that he doesn’t like bicycle paths being part of the highway bill. Well, for most Americans, they are absolutely important. It’s good for purposes of allowing people to travel without burning all the fossil fuel on the highways.”
Reid added that he had taken his morning run in Washington and noticed “scores” of people commuting by bike or foot.