WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn said his wife was in a lot better mood on Tuesday after learning that he is going to be at home for Christmas. And Sen. Jim Inhofe may be able to see his grandchildren sing at church on Christmas Eve.
The two Republican senators from Oklahoma were facing major disruptions in their holiday traditions until an agreement was reached on Tuesday to hold a final vote on health reform legislation early Thursday morning. Before the agreement, the vote was set for late Thursday evening because Republicans had insisted on using all of the available debate time. Republicans relented Tuesday after another vote demonstrated Democrats have enough support to clear the bill and pave the way for negotiations with the House on a final version of the legislation. Inhofe, of Tulsa, said he had been among the Republicans who questioned the need to push the debate to its limit after Democrats secured the necessary votes on Saturday to approve the legislation. "I can assure you the vast majority of the (Republican) conference was on my side saying we’ve had all the fun we’re going to have” debating the bill, Inhofe said. Inhofe, who celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary and then got stranded in Tulsa on Tuesday because of bad weather, is scheduled to return to Washington early today. He said he didn’t want to miss the candlelight service at his Tulsa church on Christmas Eve since he’s been going to it for 50 years and three of his grandchildren are singing in it this year. Coburn, of Muskogee, has been an active participant throughout the last four weeks of debate on the bill and is among the most adamant opponents. But he said Tuesday, "Of course I’m happy — everybody’s happy to be able to go home.