Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said Thursday that he would oppose any attempt to pass legislation before the Senate goes on break that adds even one penny to the national debt.
Coburn’s plan is to block unanimous consent requests to pass bills without any debate. Coburn said this method of passing legislation doesn’t have to be objectionable, but said it is too often used just before the Senate goes on break to pass bills that pile on billions of dollars to the debt.
“So my rights as an individual senator are going to be utilized today, until we go home, to make sure we don’t transfer another penny, if I can stop it, onto the backs of our children,” he said on the Senate floor.
“So I’m putting my colleagues on notice that if you want to pass any bill that’s going to go by unanimous consent you better find some waste somewhere to offset it with, or I will object,” he added.
One of the bills he said he would oppose by unanimous consent is the bill to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs. House and Senate negotiators reached a deal to spend about $15 billion, and $10 billion of that would come from new borrowing.
“I will be raising a point of order against this bill,” Coburn said. “I will be voting against it.”
Coburn said unanimous consent requests are often used just before a break to put pressure on senators not to object to things they might otherwise oppose. But he said he’s willing to stand up to that pressure.
“I don’t mind taking the heat, no matter what the issue,” he said. “Our children and our grandchildren are worth any amount of heat to create a future opportunity for them that’s at least as equal to what we’ve had.”