Unparliamentary language: Senator calls majority leader ‘absolute asshole’
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) was speaking at The New York Young Republican Club’s annual shindig in Manhattan on Monday when he unleashed on the topic of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada), the majority leader of the upper chamber of Congress.
Coburn was discussing his relationship with certain lawmakers on the other side of the aisle when he let his feelings about Reid get the best of him.
“I have great relationships with Chuck Schumer (D-New York). I don’t say that in Oklahoma,” Coburn told the crowd.
“There’s no comity with Harry Reid. I think he’s an absolute asshole,” the senator added.
The New York Daily News was the first outlet to report on the comment, and Coburn has since stepped up and offered an explanation of sorts.
“My words weren’t appropriate, but my frustrations are real,” Coburn said early Wednesday during a television appearance on the Fox and Friends TV program.
Even still, Coburn attested to Fox News that his issues with Reid regard more than just the Nevada lawmaker, but the Democratic Party he controls as Senate majority leader.
“The Senate’s not doing what it’s supposed to do, and the leadership of the Senate has set it so that they can actually force consensus,” Coburn said. "Our founders designed the Senate to force consensus, and you can’t force consensus if you don’t allow amendments and you don’t allow people’s voices to be heard.”
Even with that pseudo-apology aside, representatives for Reid have been quick to complain about the exchange to members of the Coburn camp.
"Nothing says ‘comity’ like childish playground name-calling, especially from a senator who has not sponsored a single piece of successful bipartisan legislation during his entire Senate career,” Adam Jentleson, a spokesperson for Reid, responded to reporters this week.
That isn’t to say that this marked the first time the two senators shared their thoughts about one another. Last year Coburn said of his colleagues, "If you want to ask why the Senate isn't working, there's one reason; it's called Harry Reid.”
"Incompetent and incapable of carrying on the leadership in the Senate,” Coburn continued to describe the Democrat.
During that instance, Coburn again was prompted to apologize — sort of.
“I don’t apologize for my frustration of this place, but occasionally my words are harsh and inaccurate," he said.