Levity Is Alive On Capitol Hill

It would appear that Senator Tom Coburn is feeling a bit frivolous these days. I don’t know the man from Adam’s own house cat, but based on the language employed in his proposed amendment to HR1: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka The Big Stimulus Bill), the Senator cannot resist an opportunity for some almost hidden snark.

There are several amendments in play for HR1 and Senator Coburn’s is only one in almost two-hundred. But if you take a gander at SA 175, you’ll be met with some curious verbiage. Let’s read it together (you might need to click through, then scroll down to find it).

SA 175. Mr. COBURN submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill H.R. 1, making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

At the appropriate place, insert the following:


None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, arts center, or highway beautification project, including renovation, remodeling, construction, salaries, furniture, zero-gravity chairs, big screen televisions, beautification, rotating pastel lights, and dry heat saunas.

Let’s forget for a minute that Senator Coburn appears to have no love for the arts. At all. Or that he is comfortably lumping casinos and theaters into the same bucket. Forget all that.

But zero-gravity chairs? Pastel lights? Dry heat saunas? Where did that come from? Well, Senator Coburn is being a little self-referential in his amendment-pitching. Those very improvements — intended as further improvements to the CDC’s Employee Fitness Center — were halted in December 2007 by a provision inserted by Senator Coburn into the 2008 Omnibus Spending Bill. It reads as follows:

SEC. 222. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used—
(1) for the Ombudsman Program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and
(2) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide additional rotating pastel lights, zero-gravity chairs, or dry-heat saunas for its fitness center.

Now it all makes sense. Senator Coburn is simply treating us all to a reprise of one of his presumably greatest legislative hits.

Isn’t it nice to see somebody has room in their legislation for a little levity in these trying economic times?

2 responses to “Levity Is Alive On Capitol Hill”

  1. Having been to said fitness center hundreds of times, I am aware of the saunas (there are two – one in the men’s locker room, one in the women’s) but I don’t believe i know of the existence of the other two items. If I find them, I’ll let you know. Also I was under the impression that the Ombudsman was sacked months ago and the position dissolved… but then again, what the heck do I know

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