Senator Tom Coburn Thursday put his colleagues in the lower chamber on advance notice, vowing to torpedo any promises of patronage made by President Barack Obama to wavering House Democrats.
Coburn promised at a health care presser on Capitol Hill today that he would exercise his senatorial prerogative to hold all nominations of vote-switching House Democrats who lose their reelection bids this Fall. The new maneuver aimed at scuttling Democratic vote whipping efforts sent an unmistakeable message to the White House: Senate Republicans will do everything in their power to prevent the bill's passage, even if that means preemptively expending political capital.
"I want to send a couple messages to my colleagues in the House. If you voted no and you vote yes and you lose your election, and you think any nomination to a federal position isn't going to held in the Senate, I've got news for you," Coburn, a physician whose been among the Senate's most vocal opponents of the bill, said. "It's going to be held."
While House Republicans remain publicly confident the caucus will unanimously reject the bill, speculation looms large over Representative Joseph Cao, who is said to be undecided on the legislation. Still, Coburn's warning has little bearing for Republicans.
39 Democrats voted against the bill last year. Representative Dennis Kucinich became the first Democrat to change course, as he surrendered yesterday to intense White House lobbying to support the bill.
"If you think you can cut a deal now and it not come out until after the election, I want to tell you that isn't going to happen and be prepared to defend selling your vote in the House," warned Coburn.