Senate Republicans block effort to aid paralyzed vets
John Byrne
Published: Wednesday July 30, 2008

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Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has done it again.

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Act, named for the actor who was made famous by his portrayal of superman and later became a champion of the disabled, along with his late wife (pictured at right), is part of a broad package created by Democrats which lumps together 36 bills.

It would have allocated $25 million for research on spinal cord injuries, rehabilitation and measures to improve the quality of life for paralyzed Americans. The effort is backed by the Paralyzed Veterans of America, which claims 19,000 members. Some 200,000 Americans suffer spinal cord-related injuries.

“We have a war with many veterans who suffer some from spinal cord injuries or paralysis,” said Lee Page, associate advocacy director for Paralyzed Veterans for America told the Navy Times Tuesday.

The overall bill, dubbed the Advancing America’s Priorities Act, was blocked by a 50-42 vote, short of the 60 votes need to overcome a filibuster. It was created in an effort to draw attention to Sen. Tom Coburn, a stalwart crusader for tightening the pursestrings of government.

The bill also included funding for victims of torture, disability, and disease.

The House passed the Reeve bill in 2007, but the Senate has never followed suit.

The Democrats' package bundled numerous uncontroversial proposals in an attempt to overcome procedural hurdles Coburn has imposed. Dr. Coburn is famous for his efforts to moonlight as a physician while serving in Congress, and was blocked by the Senate when he attempted to continue delivering babies while in office. He's also known for his annual screening of films warning congressional staffers of venereal disease.

Republicans blasted the bill as an attempt to bait them and distract from measures to deal with high gas prices.

"They're using every trick to get us away from dealing with high gas prices," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).