Coburn Introduces Amendments Not Found in His Own Health Care Bill

Jodi Jacobson

In keeping with their failed efforts to upend health reform, Senate Republicans are using several tactics to delay passage of the reconciliation bill now being debated.  First it was a work stoppage (are Senators unionized?), and now it is a string of irrelevant, and sometimes dangerous, amendments.

In keeping with their failed efforts to upend health reform, Senate Republicans are using several tactics to delay passage of the reconciliation bill now being debated.  The first tactic was to hold a work stoppage (are Senators unionized?), with the Republicans deciding to “walk out” each day at 2 pm and thereby scuttle Senate hearings on security, environment and economic issues.

The other is to “file a pile” of amendments and try to force the Senate to debate each of them.  More amendments, less time….delay.  Were amendments to be passed at this juncture, as the Republicans know, the bill would have to go back to the House.

Add to this the fact that many of the amendments are pure political posturing with content meant expressly to try and embarass Democrats.

Chris Frates of Politico reports that:

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Republicans are doing their best to use Senate procedure to derail the reconciliation bill. And true to form, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn has introduced a few amendments that will be very hard for Democrats to vote against, including no Viagra for sex offenders.

Take Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn’s amendment, which, ostensibly would prohibit coverage of Viagra and other erectile dysfunction medications to convicted child molesters, rapists, and sex offenders.

“There’s no prohibition in the bill for this, at this time,” Coburn said on the Senate floor.

A few things wrong with this picture.

First, as noted by Media Matters, Coburn’s own health reform proposal, the Patient’s Choice Act, itself did not contain any “prohibition of coverage for Viagra…to rapists and sex offenders.”

Second, Senator Coburn, as concerned as he suddenly is at this late date about the possible sale of Viagra to sex offenders voted against an amendment to a defense appropriations offered last fall by Senator Al Franken (D-MN) that would have strengthened the rights of victims of rape working for US government contractors.

According to an article on Firedog Lake, Franken’s bill would have defunded  military contractors who prevent rape victims from seeking justice.  Coburn joined 30 other Republicans in voting no.

Franken was inspired to push the amendment by the story of Jamie Leigh Jones, who was an employee of KBR — at the time a subsidiary of Halliburton — working in Baghdad’s Green Zone when she was allegedly gang-raped by other KBR workers.

And….curiously….Coburn’s amendment also includes language that seeks to ban coverage for “abortion drugs” like RU 486. 

Does it strike anyone else as strange that a Senator concerned about the sale of Viagra to child molestors and rapists would be as unconcerned about the rights of women who have been raped to have justice and to gain unimpeded access to RU486 in the case of pregnancy?

I can’t imagine what is it like to wake up every day and spend your professional life thinking up new ways to undermine the health and rights of women.

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