Feb 14 2007
Dr. Coburn offered six amendments to improve the bill. Unfortunately, the Democrat leadership refused to allow debate and a fair up-or-down vote on any amendments. Dr. Coburn’s amendments that were blocked from coming to the floor included amendments to:
1) Remove prohibition on “Baby AIDS” program funding (amendment #234)
2) Increase AIDS drugs assistance funding with offsets from the corporate welfare Advanced Technology Program (amendment #235)
3) Extend debate on the existing stop-gap spending bill for two more weeks to allow more debate and amendments (amendment #236)
4) Require public disclosure of government reports delivered to the Appropriations Committees (amendment #250)
5) Increase emergency farm aid with offsets from Community Development Block Grants (amendment #251)
6) Require the Global AIDS Fund to publicly disclose audits and program reviews (amendment #252)
Dr. Coburn took to the Senate floor today to speak about the omnibus spending bill. Below are some excerpts.
Earmarks are protected in CR:
“ … nobody can accuse me of being partisan on earmarks. I went after my own party harder than I went after anybody else. I didn't see anybody last year from the other side come down here and challenge an earmark. I saw nobody in the last two years from the other side come down here and challenge an earmark. And then to claim there’s no earmarks in this bill and to try to do a wink and a nod to the American public that, oh, yeah, we're fixing it when 95% of them are there; it gives us pause to wonder if anything's changed. It hasn't. It's still a game.”
Funding for troops jeopardized:
“The second thing that I think is important with this is there’s all sorts of budget gimmicks with it. The quote is that we stay within the budget. That's a lie, because what they do is they steal money from our grandchildren, which they will get back on the next supplemental, but that won't have to be within the budget limitations. So we're just playing games. Nothing has changed about the U.S. senate and the wink and the nod to the American public about what's really happening to our future financial conditions. $3.1 billion out of this will be transferred to the next supplemental to pay for things that absolutely have to happen with our troops in terms of transferring them from Germany in the BRAC relocation process. That's all been stolen so they can do other things.”
Funding for Baby AIDS testing inexplicably cut:
“The one area where we've been very successful in eliminating HIV infections have been women who are pregnant and are having babies who are HIV infected … It's all (HIV testing) based on an option of being able to opt out. If you don't want to be tested, you don't have to. This bill precludes any money to be spent on that. How dare us? How dare us stop the area where we're most effective in the country at preventing HIV infection? … To block the funding, especially for African American women who carry the burden of this disease in pregnancy is unconscionable. There's not a good answer for why this prohibition is put into this, and whoever did it, whoever did it doesn't care a wit about the innocent children who are going to get HIV infection, doesn't care about the African American woman who's carrying it, but doesn't know she has it, who could be treated and never progress to aids. What they care about is politics and political correctness.”
Dr. Coburn has notified Senate leaders of his intention to extend the debate on the massive $463 billion continuing resolution (CR) measure.
In a press release, Dr. Coburn said: “I’m disappointed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is using the threat of a government shutdown to protect pork projects, wasteful spending and irrational cuts to vital programs. The American people do not want a government shutdown. What they do want is a fair and open debate about our nation’s spending priorities. Everyone in America understands that the federal budget contains vast amounts of waste, fraud and duplication. By blocking attempts to eliminate wasteful programs and possibly redirect those savings to more urgent priorities, such as veterans’ health care or HIV prevention, the majority leader is essentially declaring that the government is operating at peak efficiency and can’t be streamlined any further." Read the full release.
The CR, H.J. Res. 20, coming before the Senate protects 95 percent of earmarks in violation of the “earmark moratorium” announced by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Representative David Obey (D-MI). Specifically, the CR protects funding for 95 percent of all earmarks, which are hidden in conference report language. Egregious earmarks protected in the CR include:
- $350,000 for the “World Food Prize” for outstanding work in food assistance;
- $1.5 million for construction of an entrance to the U.S. National Arboretum;
- More than $1 million for alternative salmon products, including $450,000 for development of baby food containing salmon;
- $591,000 for the Montana Sheep Institute;
- $295,000 for wool research;
- $232,000 for the National Wild Turkey Federation;
- $100,000 to establish a farm-raised catfish grading system; and
- $2,970,000 to “maintain a partnership between USDA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.”
Dr. Coburn has filed an amendment to extend the current continuing resolution funding government operations to March 1 to give senators the opportunity to debate national spending priorities.
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