Republicans have something of a free shot in the reconciliation bill. Democrats have already signaled that they will whip against any amendments and changes to the bill, in an effort to pass it intact and send it directly to the President, avoiding another vote in the House. So Republicans can write virtually any amendment, forcing Democrats into terrible votes, without much consequence, knowing they will be defeated and providing campaign ad fodder.

Some Senators are better at writing such amendments than others. David Vitter’s amendment concerned no federal funding for ACORN, an organization that just folded on Monday. But Tom Coburn has brought this kind of poison pill penning to something of an art form. His list of particulars this time is kind of a thing of beauty. Start with the first:

No Erectile Dysfunction Drugs To Sex Offenders – This amendment would enact recommendations from the Government Accountability Office to stop fraudulent payments for prescription drugs prescribed by dead providers or, to dead patients. This amendment also prohibits coverage of Viagra and other ED medications to convicted child molesters, rapists, and sex offenders, and prohibits coverage of abortion drugs. (Note: the creation of exchanges could allow sex offenders to receive taxpayer-funded Viagra and other ED drugs unless Congress expressly prohibits this action – see additional background attached)

The creation of exchanges could allow blind people to receive taxpayer-funded eyeglasses, or Floridians to receive taxpayer-funded Snuggies. That’s all for the implementation phase, making this amendment superfluous and ridiculous. But the campaign ads saying “Senator X voted for Viagra for sex offenders” is priceless. This is how Coburn got firearms allowed in national parks in the middle of a credit card bill.

The other amendments are similarly absurd, but with a means to them. The prospect exists of Republicans offering liberal amendments (such as the public option) to give Democrats problems with the base, but it’s unclear whether they would give that a try.

Democrats expect to get to the voting on amendments phase sometime tomorrow. 7 1/2 of the 20 hours of debate for reconciliation were used up yesterday.