Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has a nickname that he's apparently always liked. The right-wing physician-turned-politician is often referred to as "Dr. No" because of his willingness to oppose popular measures with broad support. In fact, Coburn almost seems to revel in his role as a one-man obstruction machine.
And as the Oklahoma Republican wraps up his final week on Capitol Hill -- Coburn is retiring before his term is up due to health reasons -- he's ending his career in the most disheartening way possible.
An energy-efficiency bill written by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) already passed the House, but it's stuck this week because of Coburn's objections. The Senate is trying to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, but Coburn is blocking that, too.
And as Rachel noted on the show last night, the Senate is eager to approve the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act, which cleared the House last week with unanimous support, but Coburn is literally the only member standing in the way.
Veterans groups blasted Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn Monday for blocking a bill intended to reduce a suicide epidemic that claims the lives of 22 military veterans every day.
"This is why people hate Washington," said Paul Rieckhoff, CEO and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an advocacy group. Rieckhoff accused Coburn of single-handedly blocking a bill that could save the lives of thousands of veterans.
Coburn delivered remarks on the Senate floor yesterday, attempting to explain himself. See for yourself whether or not the senator's defense made any sense:
The National Rifle Association has certain expectations when it comes to dictating developments on Capitol Hill. But once in a while, the NRA picks an important fight and loses. Take yesterday, for example.
The Senate on Monday narrowly confirmed President Obama's pick for surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, after the nomination was held up for more than a year. The Senate voted 51 to 43 to confirm Murthy, who received both an M.B.A. and M.D. from Yale.
More than a year has passed since anyone has served as the U.S.'s top doctor; the country's most recent surgeon general, Regina Benjamin, served from 2009 to 2013.
The final roll call on Murthy's confirmation is online here. Note, three conservative Senate Democrats -- Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) -- voted with Republicans to defeat the nomination. One Republican, Illinois' Mark Kirk, voted with the Democratic majority.
For Murthy, the fact that he's qualified and well suited for the position was never in doubt. As regular readers know, the nation's new Surgeon General-designate is an impressive medical professional with sterling credentials. He's also an attending physician, an instructor, and a public-health advocate -- who, like so many in his field, sees a connection between gun violence and public health.
And that alone was enough to draw fierce opposition from the NRA, conservative media, and nearly every Republican in the Senate, including alleged "moderates" like Maine's Susan Collins.
Indeed, let's not forget that when Murthy's nomination first reached the Senate floor back in March, Republicans derailed him, at least temporarily, with the help of nervous red-state Dems with election-year jitters, which is why the nation didn't have a Surgeon General during the Ebola public-health scare.
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