I've been going on and on about Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding for a couple of reasons. First, fuel prices are very high and I think it's worthwhile policy to help the poorest and most vulnerable pay their heating bills. Second, Sen. Smilin' Norm Coleman (R-MN) had to choose between his constituents and his leadership. So far, he's putting Bill Frist's interests ahead of Minnesota's interests. Coleman voted in favor of the defense appropriations bill -- which included opening ANWR for drilling -- and was promised a vote on $2 billion in extra funding for LIHEAP. That $2 billion in extra funding has been reduced to $1 billion shifted forward by 10 months. Even though he sold his vote for the LIHEAP promise, Coleman has been nearly silent about the betrayal from his leadership.
Here's yet another reason to be pissed off about LIHEAP: the gross hypocrisy of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla). Coburn, along with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) have put a "legislative hold" on LIHEAP funding. Coburn's a fiscal conservative, you see, who believes Great Aunt Sarah should shiver all winter so we can afford to give Paris Hilton a huge tax cut.
So we have exactly 2 senators preventing an up or down vote on LIHEAP. It's gross and outrageous. And guess which Okie Senator agrees?
In 2003, however, obstructionist senators decided the system that was designed by our founders and practiced for 214 years was no longer fair. If the minority didn't like the judicial philosophy of one of President Bush's nominees they concluded it was their right to deny them the courtesy of an up or down vote through a filibuster. Instead of needing 51 votes to be confirmed, the minority unilaterally declared that judges who failed their liberal litmus test would need 60 votes to break their filibuster. Never before in American history has a judicial nominee with clear majority support been denied an up-or-down vote.
Coburn told The Hill two weeks ago that "he doesn't care whether these nominees are voted up or down on the Senate floor; he said he just wants to see a vote."
It takes quite a set of stones to complain about the mere threat that a 40 member minority could block the Senate from acting while you and a buddy actually are blocking the Senate from acting.
Roberts can his up or down vote. Scalito, too. Surely Great Aunt Sarah deserves the same courtesy?