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Sen. Coburn blocks wildlife protection bills

By Juliet Eilperin

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) kept up his opposition to Democratic priorities late Tuesday, blocking several bills that would have protected wildlife on the grounds that they would cost the federal government money.

Senate Majority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was seeking to adopt a number of House-passed bills by unanimous consent when Coburn stepped in, arguing lawmakers should have higher priorities than focusing on animals. The measures included the Crane Conservation Act, the Great Cats and Rare Canids Act, the Shark Conservation Act and the Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act.

"The problems that are facing this country are so big and so massive that our attention ought to be focused on those large problems, not on five separate bills that have been proffered for special interest groups," Coburn said.

The move disappointed animal-rights activists, who suggested American officials would run into resistance lobbying for environmental measures internationally when they could not deliver on the same priorities back home.

The issue of whether to protect sharks in the Pacific is under consideration right now at a meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission, which U.S. officials are attending. The bill Coburn blocked would have required any sharks brought to port in the U.S. to have their fins attached, a rule aimed at discouraging vessels from targeting the fish for fins that can fetch high prices in Asia.

"The U.S. cannot advocate for a comprehensive "fins naturally attached" policy until we take care of this bill," said Matt Rand, who directs global shark conservation for the Pew Environment Group, an advocacy organization. "Smaller countries are taking on the fishing giants and need our help. We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines at home or abroad while these magnificent animals are decimated."

By Juliet Eilperin  | September 29, 2010; 5:53 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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So much for all gods’ creatures… It’s pathetic and sad really. Species are going extinct at a rate not seen since the Dinosaurs disappeared. The problem is human population pressure and greed. Greed we can do something about. Vote the Republicans out. Republican policies favor a continuation of our wasteful culture in the name of quick cash. And for our children, a much diminished world. A world of resource wars; wars in which the rich will not fight nor die. This is not leadership its cowardice. And to those that support this cowardice, have a good sleep.

Posted by: shredder1 | September 30, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Why is it alleged "deficit hawks" like Coburn refuse to "rein in out of control government spending" by immediately giving up their own Congressional pensions, involuntary taxpayer subsidies of their health insurance premiums and health care costs, and slashing their congressional paychecks to that of the average US wage earners?

Oh, that's right, a strong, socialist government safety net is just fine and dandy for elected officials like Coburn, but wrong and immoral for those desperately seeking work or working at dirty, dangerous, low-salary no-benefits jobs.

Hypocritical parasites, that sums up every "deficit hawk" either serving, or seeking, office who won't take the above actions to show how "serious" they really are about cutting unnecessary government spending.

Posted by: kingcranky | September 30, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Good for Coburn.
If the environmentalists are so DEEPLY CONCERNED with these species, then they should be able to raise funding from their CONCERNED, DEDICATED members rather than dragoon hapless taxpayers, who most likely have no clue these bills are in the hopper and could care less about the "fate" of these species.
Look, environmentalism is a cult. This violates the separation of cult and state.

Posted by: daskinner | September 30, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

This is the kind of thing we get when we elect Republicans to high office.

Republicans have absolutely no concern or conscience for the welfare of this country. They care about only two things: money and power and not necessarily in that order. They will do whatever it takes to advance their "Money/Power" agenda:

Destroy our environment? No problem.

Cause the extinction of entire species? So what?

46,000,000 Americans - mostly children - without health care? Not our problem.

Crumbling infrastructure? Get real.

Two percent of the population controlling half the country's wealth? Good for us.

Add a trillion to the deficit by giving our friends and benefactors a big tax cut? You betcha.

And on it goes. If we keep giving these sleaze-bags the power to hurt us, that's exactly what they'll continue to do.

Posted by: lorenabbey | September 30, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Cranes and sea otters are "special interests?" The most disturbing thing would be if Coburn made these comments with a straight face.

Posted by: lawrenc1 | September 30, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Cranes and sea otters are "special interests?" The most disturbing thing would be if Coburn made these comments with a straight face.

Posted by: lawrenc1 | September 30, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Cranes and sea otters are "special interests?" The most disturbing thing would be if Coburn made these comments with a straight face.

Posted by: lawrenc1 | September 30, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I am a moderate-conservative ready to vote Republican. For years, I did not, solely because of the hard right's hostility to anything that actually protects wildlife. Ironic, given Teddy Roosevelt's lead on the matter. Stewardship is a vital purpose of our government.

The ignorance shown by Coburn on necessary protection is an ugly reminder of what, in addition to righting a much to leftward-tilting government, I'd be voting for. This again gives me pause. The earth, or lefist policies? Nice choice.

Posted by: SueR1 | September 30, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

"Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) kept up his opposition to Democratic priorities late Tuesday, blocking several bills that would have protected wildlife on the grounds that they would cost the federal government money."

Well maybe if Obama did a better job at coming up with a plan to spend the $800+Billion stimulus package we would have money left over to help the animals.

The democrats only have themselves to blame for this.

Posted by: sanmateo1850 | September 29, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Career politicians--ALL ALIKE--
want to really get >> taxes we pay

Posted by: rw62827 | September 29, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Career politicians--ALL ALIKE--
want to really get >> taxes we pay

Posted by: rw62827 | September 29, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Good for Coburn. The US government does not need to fund every non-essential item that comes down the pike. Wildlife thrived millions of years before man and will continue to thrive for many years to come.

Posted by: Illini | September 29, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

How about we take away all the protection for congress, especially Coburn? How long before they/he go extinct?

Posted by: boleson02 | September 29, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it interesting how Republicans talk about the debt left to their grandchildren but have no problems destroying the natural resources. They have no problems allowing our forest to be destroyed, lets drill for oil wherever we can lets not do a darn thing to preserve our natural resources, our kids and grand kids don't need any natural resources. Heck they don't even need a decent country to live in. Lets rape the land, destroy all of our natural resources, animals, ecosystems, blow off the top of mountains. Use up all the oil. Yep destroy the country but at least our kids won't have a debt. That's something!

Posted by: catmomtx | September 29, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

COeburn is trying to outcrazy demint - and paling and angle and toomey and odoneel and miller and All the gop is just a nut parade.

Posted by: John1263 | September 29, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

The republicon teahadi movement has clearly losts its mind, and never had a soul. Or much that anyone would mistake for a mind, either.

Posted by: John1263 | September 29, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Coburn blocked the Animal Bill because he feared it would regard him. He is a weasel and a snake....

Posted by: biglio | September 29, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Are all ***holes Republicans? No, but all Republicans have proven themselves to be ***holes of the highest order. Correction - terminally greedy, ethically bankrupt ***holes of the highest order. May they all rot in hell in November, or sooner if possible.

Posted by: Bushwhacked1 | September 29, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Somehow... I don't see the good Sen demanding the cutting of farm subsidies or the bloated defense budget or any number of corporatist agenda programs he likes...The GOP have no ethics or morals of any kind.

Posted by: dwdave67 | September 29, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Stupid Shark fin bill? HEY, CREEP. FIRST OF ALL, THE DEMS HAVE TRIED TO PASS MORE IMPORTANT BILLS THAN THESE. What do Republicans do? Vote against them or attempt to block it in anyway possible. The vast majority of the Senate does this. What has Coburn voted "yes" to of importance? This guy, like most Republicans, have very little common sense. They don't care about this country ahead of themselves and their record proves just that. Even constituencies they claim to care about, they vote against aid for.

So save the "common sense" bull. Coburn would cut off his right hand if Democrats were for protecting right hands. That's how idiotic the Republicans have been.

2) Whether or not you realize this, sharks in general act as predators in our oceans, a useful function for our ecosystem. They can be overfished or killed for no reason, and then what are you left with? An overage of other kinds of sea life that can cause damage in unforeseen ways - not just for an ecosystem but for industry that depends on the ecosystem (fisheries, nutraceuticals via marine life, for example). It's not just that people are preserving nature's creatures (a good thing in and of itself), but it's in our best interest for animals like this to carry on their natural functions.

It's similar to how killing praying mantises would allow the population of mosquitoes, spiders, locusts (etc) to get out of hand.

It's narrow-minded to believe that this bill couldn't be passed based on "common sense" or improper prioritization. Republicans haven't used common sense since Bill Clinton was president (if that) and they should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Voting on these bill don't preclude them from voting on other bills. They aren't currently working on (excuse me BLOCKING) anything else of importance. They're just sitting with their thumbs up their butts, per usual.

Americans are paying for these idiots to work. They ought to be working on something beneficial for the people. If you don't think this is beneficial, fine, but you should ask about why they keep voting against or blocking bills that ARE more directly beneficial to the people - especially the economy.

For all the outcry of focusing on the economy, these Republican dolts are the ones who keep sabotaging the works and drawing time down until the election (with the exception of the tax cuts legislation which Dems are being idiots about in not voting on it quickly).

Posted by: fbutler1 | September 29, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Why is Michelle Obama pictured next to Senator Coburn?

Posted by: screwjob21 | September 29, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if it was the same common sense that led Coburn to make this statement regarding the gay community - "They are the greatest threat, that agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom we face today"

Posted by: zeldarapp | September 29, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

NO" to healthcare for children;

"NO" to filling the donut hole for seniors;

"NO" to improving our food safety system.

"NO" to improving education.

"NO" to reigning in Wall Street.

"NO" to regulating big banks.

"NO" to making pharma accountable.

"NO" to better oversight of oil drilling.

"NO" to taxing Bush era profiteers.

"NO" to middle class tax breaks;

"NO" to unemployment assistance extension

"NO" to SMALL business assistance.

"NO" to cleaning up the environment.

"NO" to bringing back outsourced jobs.

"NO" to protecting other life forms

Exactly which country do the Republicons represent? Iran? China? Russia?

They love their party and corporate sponsors so much that they are willing to dismantel this country, contract it out and turn it into a second rate, third world country.

American Pride is not what comes to mind when I see or read stuff like this.

All I hear the Republi-can't saying is
"NO" to America

Posted by: alpacaman1 | September 29, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) kept up his opposition to Democratic priorities late Tuesday, blocking several bills that would have protected wildlife on the grounds that they would cost the federal government money.
Talking about animals and costing money.....

......Sen. Coburn costs money too! Plus he probably gets a lot of slop in his trough from corporations.

Posted by: kishorgala | September 29, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Americans don't eat shark fin soup very often, but the Japanese do. PBS has shown documentaries of Japanese fishing boats catching large sharks, hacking off only the fin, and throwing the rest of the shark back into the water. Its like killing a mountain gorilla for its hand, just to make an ashtray. It needs to stop.

Posted by: AnnsThought | September 29, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Why should we pass a stupid shark fin bill when we don't even eat that much shark fins? Coburn must be using common sense.

Posted by: moebius22 | September 29, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

@Denise = Except bank bailouts and tax cuts for the rich...

Posted by: soapm | September 29, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

The Repugnants will say no to anything.

Posted by: denise4925 | September 29, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

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