“He wants to put whatever he think is right for the world and the country as it relates to highways in this bill,” accused Reid. “'Just do it, I am dictator. I am going to put it in this bill and you are not going to do anything about it.'”

Coburn is delaying legislation designed to move $6.9 billion in funding for FEMA because he says it ought to be paid for with other cuts in federal spending. His insistence that the legislation go through all of the Senate’s time-consuming rules could prevent the upper chamber from getting to a combined highway and FAA funding bill before current funding expires Friday. Reid said such a scenario would leave about 80,000 construction workers with out jobs on Saturday morning.

“Sadly in just about two days about 80,000 will be out of work because of the obstructionism of one man,” said Reid referring to Coburn. “[H]e is holding up emergency aid for Americans whose homes have been destroyed by tornadoes floods and wildfires."  

Coburn, who also opposes a provision in the highway bill that would require 10 percent of highway funds doled out to states be used for beautification projects, confirmed from the Senate floor Wednesday night that he had no intention of allowing either pieces of legislation to go forward as they are.

“I know there will be plenty... including my own senior senator who will be unhappy with my decision [to sustain the filibuster] but it’s the right thing to do,” said Coburn.

Before shutting down the Senate on Wednesday night Reid filled the amendment tree on the FEMA legislation preventing the addition of any other amendments and said the Senate is set for a series of votes on the FEMA legislation on Friday. Further votes on FAA and highway funding would then likely be scheduled for Saturday or Sunday unless Coburn cancels his flibuster.