Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Coburn wants to repay furloughed DOT workers from Congress's account

By Ed O'Keefe

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is blocking Senate passage of a bill that would compensate the roughly 2,000 Transportation Department workers who were furloughed during an impasse over federal funding for highway and transportation projects.

Coburn wants to pay the workers back with $1 million from the congressional budget, rather than tapping the federal coffers. That proposal would cost each House and Senate office approximately $2,000.

"No one believes that the 1,992 Department of Transportation employees who were recently furloughed should suffer a loss of pay because of Congress' inability to maintain core federal programs," Coburn wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) in announcing his hold on the bill. "Congress should offset the expected cost of compensation by forgoing the increase in our own budget."

Democrats had other ideas.

"If Senator Coburn really wanted to take a stand, why doesn't he change his amendment so that it is paid for out of the Republican office accounts only?" asked Reid spokesman Jim Manley. "Seems only fair, given that they were the ones that blocked the money in the first place."

In his letter, Coburn also suggested that DOT could have tapped roughly $26 billion in savings to keep the workers employed through the impasse.

House lawmakers passed the bill on Wednesday in hopes of preventing a 20 percent cut in the employees' next biweekly pay check.

The furlough stems from Sen. Jim Bunning's opposition to an unemployment bill that included a temporary extension of federal highway funding. The Kentucky Republican disagreed on how to pay for the bill, and funding dried up for some federal highway inspectors and employees working on anti-drunk driving campaigns before the Senate eventually passed the bill.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | March 12, 2010; 4:55 PM ET
Categories:  Congress, Workplace Issues  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Legoland gets in on 2010 Census action
Next: Eye Opener: Is Obama's government open enough?


This is exactly the right thing to do since Congress as a whole delayed this bill which should have been passed months and months before.

Now we have to ask if the same will happen next year. So much bickering about other issues that they can't pass funding.

Posted by: corrections | March 12, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I love the idea of letting the Republicans pay for it out of their budget since they are the obstructionists who caused the employees to be furloughed. Maybe if this kind of thing was done more often, the GOP would get off their obstructionist butts and stop playing games with people's lives.

Posted by: miesque | March 12, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate for a year. How did Republicans manage to delay the bill for that long?

Posted by: corrections | March 12, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

GOd I wish we could NOT PAY THE CONGRESS only on productivity.
Kind of like sales people. THEY WOULD DIE OF STARVATION

Posted by: racerdoc | March 12, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Take it out of funds currently enroute to Mr. Bunning's state, Kentucky

Posted by: bruce45 | March 12, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Good idea to bill congress for any disruptions they cause. Maybe make them more accountable and less oppositional.

Posted by: boleson02 | March 12, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

@ corrections

Sorry, but the democratic senate never had 60 votes on anything. Perhaps you need to read up on what a blue-dog democrat is. Perhaps you need to read up on how many democrats are TRUE democrats.

Posted by: darbyohara | March 15, 2010 6:47 AM | Report abuse

I agree: Tom Coburn and his republican ilk can pay for the hardships their republican brother, Jim Bunning, caused. Better yet, have Jim Bunning pay for it.

Republican Jim Bunning screwed with people's lives to score political points. Jim Bunning should pay for the hardships he has caused to the American workers.

Coburn saying all of Congress should pay is laughable: he is trying to deflect the righteous anger the American workers have from the republicans to Congress - and I have to ask: where is all that personal responsibility that you republicans talk so much about? If the republicans created the mess, then the republicans can pay for its clean up.

And the voters should fire the republicans as soon as possible: The voters are being abused by the republicans for political gamesmanship.

Posted by: mgirl | March 15, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

The furlough of anyone because of the actions of one Senator is unconscionable, period. Such an act is nothing short of a failure in leadership of the party from which the offender takes his colors. Instead of taxing each member of Congress $2000, let's treat this like a traffic ticket. Bunning is a Republican and he is a Senator. Take the $1Million from the 41 Senators at the rate of $24390.25 to pay these workers who were furloughed without cause. That places the responsibility where it belongs, on the Republicans.

There is a problem in this body of government called the US Senate. The members of the minority party today think that it is their God given right to stop governance because they have an individual problem with anything going on in government, period. IF the rules of the Senate allow for this, it is time for a change in the rules. The business of the people of the nation should not be held hostage by one individual, especially one who has declared that he is not going to run for office again. This is a lame duck laying down a big mess just because he can. The elitist attitude of the Senate MUST change. We hired these guys, they work for us, not for themselves or for a small group of special interest lobbyists, despite what they really do. Lobbying reform is necessary and it should be done in the next 90 days to remove special interests from the internal business of the government. If it takes outside money and advice to decide public issues for the people who hired these guys, then they don't belong there. Our government is becoming a joke to the rest of the world, thanks to the minority leadership in both houses.

Posted by: ronjeske | March 15, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

It is good to see a Senator who will admit that Congress is a Failure.

Timely bills = no furloughs. Why are the Democrats playing chicken with people's livelihoods?

Posted by: jiji1 | March 15, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

"and funding dried up for some federal highway inspectors and employees working on anti-drunk driving campaigns"

A bit short sighted on the responsibilities of those at DOT that were furloughed. Of the roughly 2000 this accounts for only a small fraction.

Posted by: tpFed | March 15, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

This is just another tactic that the Republicans are using in their "SCORCHED EARTH" policy enacted by the RNC/GOP when they realized that BUSH had already destroyed the future of this country. The Truth about this is -If Senator Coburn really wanted to take a stand, why doesn't he change his amendment so that it is paid for out of the REPUBLICANS ACCOUNTS ONLY?" They are the Party that caused this and COBURN is just trying to cause a weakness in Congress; anything to hurt the posibilities of the government to help the American public. Rep. Jim Manley was correct and truthfully FAIR in that statement. "Seems only fair, given that REPUBLICANS were the ones that blocked the money in the first place." And even though the Republicans said they felt it was not good, THEY STILL SUPPORTED HIM !!! REPUBLICANS - WHITE'ED SEPULCERS Party. Libertarians lite. What selfish cowards. God has Blessed this country by letting the people of America see their selfishness and Greed !

Posted by: edsweb7 | March 15, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I must aplaude this entry. Very Good Idea.

"Take it out of funds currently enroute to Mr. Bunning's state, Kentucky"
Posted by: bruce45 | March 12, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

This Fall, The Dems WILL win - HANDS DOWN. America has seen the Republican response to helping Americans.

Posted by: edsweb7 | March 15, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

This all well and good; but this further inaction caused my (and other's)paycheck to be short. Sure it will get fixed and I'm ok but I know there are a lot of lower GS DOT employees that this is a real problem.

Posted by: BobA3 | March 19, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company