Wyden Detains Senate With Subsidy Protest

The Associated Press
Thursday, April 27, 2006; 8:50 PM

WASHINGTON -- Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden tied up the Senate for more than 4 1/2 hours Thursday trying to force a vote on a plan to end subsidies of energy companies that lease federal land.

When majority Republicans refused to vote, Wyden, a Democrat, took control of the Senate floor, and refused to allow senators to move forward on a $106.5 billion emergency spending bill for Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war.

Wyden finally relented after Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada asked him to stand down.

Reid praised Wyden for focusing attention on the issue. He said that as a former college basketball player, Wyden "certainly has the stamina to stand as long as necessary."

But Reid added: "I reiterate ... that the point's been made."

"Today is a sad day," Wyden replied as he relinquished the floor, four hours and 36 minutes after he began speaking _ a marathon appearance that his staff said took place without benefit of a break.

Wyden's talkathon _ which included several sharp exchanges with exasperated Republicans _ fell far short of fellow Oregon Sen. Wayne Morse, who in 1953 spoke for 22 hours, 26 minutes against giving states control over oil leases.

© 2006 The Associated Press