Senate Accepts Coburn Amendment that Casts Sunshine on Budget Process
The U.S. Senate tonight accepted by a vote of 55 to 39 an amendment by U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) that will lift the veil of secrecy that conceals the process of inserting special projects - or pork - into appropriations bills. The Coburn amendment was successfully attached to the Agriculture Appropriations bill.
"At a time when our nation is at war, recovering from a terrible natural disaster, and facing rising budget deficits, business as usual in Congress simply cannot continue. I'm proud that my colleagues agreed and took an important step toward reforming the way this body does business. Taxpayers and members of Congress deserve to know what programs are being funded in appropriations bills. The American people appreciate and expect honest leadership and stewardship of their tax dollars, which this amendment supports," Dr. Coburn said.
The Coburn amendment requires that any limitation, directive, or earmarking be included in the bill's conference report. Previous Senate procedures allowed the Senate to automatically approve earmarks or special projects included in the House version of an appropriations bill. Consequently, many earmarks that became law did not even come up for a vote in the Senate. This process was used to essentially hide millions of dollars of pork spending from public view.
"It is imperative that the House of Representatives also accept this amendment in order for it to become law. The American people should urge the House to follow the Senate's example and take this important step toward honest and responsible budgeting," Dr. Coburn said.