FAA Will Stay Open for Business Despite Senator's Objection

A funding bill hailed as a bipartisan success almost got derailed thanks to one man

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The U.S. Senate's passage Thursday of a bill to extend funding for the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Department has been hailed in some quarters as a bipartisan success, but it almost didn't happen thanks to Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, who said he wanted to "draw a line in the sand" against wasteful spending. According to Politico, Coburn only relented after he was allowed to insert language into a longer-term highway funding bill. Had Coburn blocked the transportation bill through Friday night, the FAA would have faced another shutdown like the one that happened in August. Reporters Scott Wong and Manu Raju point out that Coburn's fellow Republicans had to pressure him pretty hard:

The conservative Oklahoma senator — known for singlehandedly holding up Senate business — had come under increasing pressure from his GOP colleagues and eventually relented. Earlier Thursday, they said he was demanding too much on a bill that was passed Tuesday by the Republican-controlled House and was being rushed through the Senate.

In the end, the bill's passage had senators on both sides lauding their bipartisan law making. California Democrat Barbara Boxer told Reuters, "this is a good day," and said, "we showed we can work together." Jim Inhofe, another Oklahoma Republican who helped negotiate the deal, told Politico, "righteousness has prevailed."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.