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Coburn, disparaged by some Democrats as "Dr. No" for challenging bills in which he finds costly earmarks, had sought approval to require that any amendment considered by the Senate must be offered 72 hours in advance and with a full cost report.
When he was rebuffed by Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, Coburn invoked his right to require that an amendment by another lawmaker be read aloud. That sent the Senate into limbo.
Democrats are struggling to pass their health care reform bill by Christmas.
"The only thing that Senator Coburn's stunt achieves is to stop us from moving to the (Department of Defense) appropriations bill that funds our troops -- not exactly the kind of Christmas gift that our troops were expecting from 'Dr. No,'" Majority Leader Harry Reid spokesman Jim Manley said of Coburn's effort.
If Reid really cared about the troops, he would have sought to pass the troops appropriation bill as a priority.
2010 SENATE CAMPAIGN: Polls show potential GOP challengers would beat Harry Reid
Either Republican Danny Tarkanian or Sue Lowden would knock out Reid in a general election, according to a recent poll of Nevada voters.
Nevadans favored Tarkanian over Reid 49 percent to 38 percent and Lowden over Reid 45 percent to 40 percent, according to the poll.