(Politico) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid admonished Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Wednesday, suggesting that he was acting like a “dictator” in blocking transportation legislation and that his action could put 80,000 people out of work by this weekend.
While Reid did not name names in his floor speech, Coburn is unhappy about a provision of the House-passed bill that temporarily extends funding for the Federal Aviation Administration and highway projects: a requirement that states set aside some surface transportation money for bike paths, museums and other such projects.
Coburn denied Wednesday that he’s filibustering the bill, but his spokesman has said the senator will use “all the tools at his disposal” to strip the provision from the bill.
The Senate must pass the measure and send it to President Barack Obama by Friday to avert another partial shutdown of the FAA, similar to the one earlier this summer that furloughed 4,000 FAA workers and froze 75,000 airport construction jobs.
“It’s a pretty good way to legislate around here, be a dictator and say, ‘Either take this or leave it.’ That isn’t how things work around here,” said Reid, a Nevada Democrat. “We have to have votes on issues to find out how people feel. I’m convinced his issue would lose overwhelmingly, but he’s holding this legislation up. And we are in a position that . . . we cannot get to this bill prior to Friday when the FAA expires.”