The New York Times explains the "Tomnibus," a bill in the US Senate that's merely an agglomeration of all the bills that Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn is single-handedly blocking. But Times reporter Carl Hulse doesn't seem to think much of this attempt to embarrass Coburn, a conservative Republican, into releasing his death grip on the Protect Our Children Act and dozens of other proposals. What gives Coburn so much power?
In the Senate, Mr. Coburn has continued down his singular path, driving Democrats and some Republicans to distraction with his prolific use of the “hold” — the ability of a single senator to object to moving ahead on a measure without a debate. He currently has holds on nearly 80 bills, the most of any senator.
Mr. Coburn’s approach is problematic when it comes to the mechanics of the Senate because most of the chamber’s work gets done by what is known as unanimous consent, an agreement among all parties to let a bill pass without a fight since full debate and votes on even the simplest matter can consume days.
One subtext of the story is that Democrats seem completely uninterested in trying to get rid of the patently undemocratic "hold," presumably because they like to use it too. (Any anger at Coburn is probably related to the fear that his excesses might lead to a serious attempt to get rid of the practice.) This is consistent with the Democratic Party's lack of interest in getting rid of the Senate filibuster and the Electoral College. Does Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid really have any philosophical differences with Coburn on Senate procedures?