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Posted at 2:45 PM ET, 12/23/2010

Coburn and the 9/11 bill, cont'd

By Ezra Klein

In a post yesterday on the bill extending medical benefits to 9/11 responders, I dismissed Sen. Tom Coburn's argument that the bill hasn't even had a hearing in a committee. But Coburn's office noted that his language was more nuanced, and they've got a case. So here's what Coburn said:

This bill hasn't even been through a committee. We haven't even had the debate on this committee on this bill to know if it's the best thing to do. We haven't even had the testimony.

There was a hearing, and there was testimony. You can watch it here. Coburn didn't attend that hearing, which undercuts his argument. But there wasn't a mark-up of the legislation or a vote in the committee. It was brought straight to the floor. So Coburn was partly right and partly wrong: There was testimony, and you can argue there was debate. But there wasn't the sort of debate you'd get in a mark-up, and the bill didn't go "through" a committee. I don't find this a terribly convincing case against the legislation, but I also don't want to misrepresent it.

By Ezra Klein  | December 23, 2010; 2:45 PM ET
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This represents above all else the singular reason that I return time and again to your blog. Science has a place in political debate despite the political world's apparent ignorance of it's power. And science above all other intellectual pursuits requires a powerful sense of honesty even in the face of constant vigilant attack. Correcting not just the language, but the implications of your posts betrays an honesty underlying the action. I appreciate that sort of thing.

Posted by: jwittner | December 23, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Coburn's not a great favorite of mine, but he was the most intellectually honest voice on this 9/11 bill. The fact that he missed the committee hearing does not in anyway diminish his right to try to change it later. I still have big problems with this bill, but Coburn made it much better.

Posted by: bmull | December 23, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Thought this would be of interest to readers.

Since September 2001 I have maintained the "9/11 list-serv" which distributes daily e-mails containing newspaper articles and other relevant information re: 9/11 issues of interest to 9/11 families, 9/11 organizations and interested individuals.

The 9/11 List-serv archives can be accessed at

If you would like to 'subscribe' to this free news service - send an e-mail to with the word "subscribe" in the subject box.


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