And why on earth would such a bill not be law by now (a gun bill even supported by the NRA, believe it or not)?
The answer is Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who put a “hold” on the bill.
And this is one of 95 holds that Coburn has on Senate bills.
Are you as shocked by that as I am?
This article in The Politico tells us the following (I try to be careful about sourcing from these people, but I think this is acceptable)…
(Coburn) has also held up funding for research on breast cancer, watershed restoration, a bill to designate Bill Clinton’s birthplace a National Historic Site, a boundary modification for Grand Teton National Park, a bill against dogfighting and one naming a post office after environmental writer Rachel Carson, among scores of other bills large and small.It is truly rare for me to agree with Ben Nelson on much of anything, but I think he’s absolutely right here.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)…still betrays some anger after being in Coburn’s cross hairs a few months back over an earmark that Nelson was pushing for a Nebraska company that employed his son. “What we found out was that the earmark [Coburn] was complaining about in Nebraska, his colleague had similar earmarks in Oklahoma that he had no problem with,” said Nelson.
A Coburn aide said that the senator doesn’t have the time to go through every earmark, and he encourages others to challenge ones that he hasn’t specifically gone after. But Nelson’s and other senators’ problem with Coburn is more fundamental than a single earmark: They oppose his effort to drastically reduce earmarks.
“That approach presumes that it is far better to have nameless, faceless bureaucrats deciding how money is spent in Washington rather than elected officials. The problems with earmarks have really not been about the earmarks themselves necessarily, but about eleventh-hour earmarks, no transparency and what have you. With transparency, earmarks are in general fundamentally fair,” said Nelson.
And the Politico story notes that one of the bills held by Coburn is the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act sponsored by Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). As a result, funding for research, rehabilitation and other “quality of life” issues is being held up because of Coburn’s pique (more here; some truly hammerheaded comments to the Tulsa World story, by the way, though that paper, unlike the Inky, at least allows comments to their stories and editorials).
And another infamous hold by Coburn is noted here concerning the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, which was passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 422 to 2 (don't know if Joe Pitts was one of the "no" votes; wouldn't surprise me) and was scheduled to be passed by unanimous consent in the Senate (this is a hold that Harry Reid honored, unlike the one Chris Dodd placed on the flawed FISA bill).
I don’t know what it says exactly about the Senate that a single individual is able to exercise so much power to satisfy his own narrow self interest, but at the very least, this should be cause to introduce legislation limiting the number of holds a Senator is allowed to place on legislation. Getting rid of secret holds was a good first step (here; the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 requires notification of the person placing a hold after 6 days, another accomplishment from the supposedly "do-nothing" 110th Congress), but because of Coburn’s antics, more obviously needs to be done.