As of right now, the hold-out in Oklahoma City has been going on for more than 24 hours. They’re holed up near the Chase Building, where Senator Coburn’s office is, and they’re committed. I have friends from Austin and San Diego that are there, and I heard supporters from Chicago and Los Angeles have also converged on the Sooner State. As I mentioned in my last post why there are there, they are asking Senator Tom Coburn to remove his hold on the Bill. On the same day as the rally at the OKC Capitol, Senator Russ Feingold called on Coburn to work with the original co-sponsors.
I not only admire this strong commitment to peace in the region, I share and support it. If it were up to me I’d probably be hunkered down with them right now. Supporters are flocking from across the country to one city. Supporters who can’t make it are sending food and blankets to keep them going. They even brought the Live Feed. It’s like a mini-Rescue, when 100,000 people in 100 cities supported each other for 6 days until Oprah addressed 500 of the faithful in Chicago. I’m really excited to see how it all plays out.
But I’m really worried for this bill and whether or not this campaign will work. You see, Senator Tom Coburn is a unique individual. Like a counterpart in the House, my former Representative Jeff Flake, he has one platform. The single thing he stands for more than anything else is not just fiscal responsibility, but fiscal restriction. Senator Coburn drafted a list of requirements for bills, and if a proposed bill does not meet these requirements, he refuses to allow it to pass. He has done this time and time again, placing holds on numerous bills. He even carried a little cheat sheet with a run down of each bill because he has holds on so many.
When approached about this Bill in particular, he stood his ground. I admire a man of his principle, but I’m worried that we;re reaching a stalemate. When a constituent asked about the bill (about 4:00 in), the Senator said he would support an offset to the State Department. This compromise was offered, and he still refused. I asked some sources, and they’re fairly certain that compromise wasn’t plausible even when Coburn said this. Numerous other compromises have been pitched, all to be rejected. The bill doesn’t even appropriate extra funds for this – it just authorizes spending and Congress will figure out where the money comes from later.
The problem is, Coburn won’t back down on this issue. Another problem is that we won’t give up on this bill. It means too much to the thousands of activists across the country. It means even more to innocent civilians in four east-central African countries. It means even more to those child soldiers and sex slaves in the LRA. So, we’ll keep pushing. My hope is that Oklahoma’s junior senator will cave under constituent support. But I’m prepared to go the long route and revisit my own representatives in Congress, because the only way to get around this hold is a floor vote – but we need wide support for that. So, I’m hopeful that this campaign will end soon with the removal of Coburn’s hold. But I’m gearing up to meet with important people all across the state. E-mails and phone calls will be going out soon!