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Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006

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AMENDMENT NO. 2231

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I call up amendment No. 2231.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the pending amendment is set aside. The clerk will report.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. COBURN] proposes an amendment numbered 2231.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To require that any limitation, directive, or earmarking contained in either the House of Representatives or Senate report accompanying this bill be included in the conference report or joint statement accompanying the bill in order to be considered as having been approved by both Houses of Congress)

At the appropriate place, insert the following:

SEC. __. Any limitation, directive, or earmarking contained in either the House of Representatives or Senate report accompanying H.R. 3010 shall also be included in the conference report or joint statement accompanying H.R. 3010 in order to be considered as having been approved by both Houses of Congress.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, this is an amendment that has been accepted on four appropriations bills thus far. When it was last voted on, it was accepted 55 to 39 by the Senate.

It simply is an amendment that says we ought to know what we are voting on. We call it the sunshine amendment. The procedure is oftentimes on conference reports that come back to the Senate, we know what we have in there, we know what is in the conference report, but we are not aware of what the House earmarks are in those appropriations conference reports.

This is simply an amendment that says those conference earmarks ought to be made available to Members of the Senate so they can, in fact, know what they are voting on in an appropriations conference report.

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AMENDMENT NO. 2233
(Purpose: To prohibit the use of funds for HIV Vaccine Awareness Day activities)

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I call up amendment No. 2233.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the pending amendment is set aside.

The clerk will report.

The bill clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. COBURN] proposes an amendment numbered 2233.

At the appropriate place, insert the following:

SEC. __. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, none of the funds appropriated in this Act may be used for any activities associated with HIV Vaccine Awareness Day.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, all this amendment does is say that money spent for HIV vaccine research ought to be spent on HIV vaccine research. There has been $5.2 million spent in the last 4 years to create an HIV Vaccine Awareness Day. It is not used for recruitment of candidates. It is not used for recruitment for anything other than to celebrate the fact that we are working on an HIV vaccine.

I believe it is very important that dollars for research on HIV go to research on HIV and a vaccine, in particular. The hope is that sometime in the next 5 to 10 years, we will have a vaccine. We do not have a cure for HIV, no matter how hard we work, how many hundreds of millions of dollars we are putting into that. And for us to have spent $5.2 million over the last 4 years and another million dollars over the next year in promotional activity to make Americans aware that we are working on an HIV vaccine is an improper placement of the dollars being spent.

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I believe the dollars will be better spent toward HIV vaccine efforts rather than an effort to make people aware of that fact.

I hope the Senator from Iowa and the Senator from Pennsylvania will accept this amendment.

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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I will be happy to set the amendment aside, but I have to let you know we have looked at all the ads. There has never been recruitment of anybody for vaccine trials in any of the ads they have ever run. The American people ought to be asking, why would we be spending $1 million a year? Everybody in this country knows HIV is deadly. There is no lack of knowledge on that issue. To spend $1 million on HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is $1 million to help people with HIV through the ADAP program, $1 million to fund an extra research model or it is $1 million to fund three researchers on an HIV vaccine a year.

I believe we would be well advised to prioritize the money that is going there. I would be happy to set this amendment aside, as per the chairman's request.

I am adamant that I think that we are not spending the money properly.

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AMENDMENT NO. 2230

Mr. COBURN. I call up amendment No. 2230.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. COBURN] proposes an amendment numbered 2230.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To limit funding for conferences)

On page 222, between lines 5 and 6, insert the following:

SEC. 517. LIMITATION ON FUNDING FOR CONFERENCES.

(a) Department of Labor.--Of the funds made available for the Department of Labor under the heading ``Departmental Management, Salaries and Expenses'' in title I, not to exceed $2,000,000 shall be available for expenses related to conferences, including for conference programs, staff time, travel costs, and related expenses.

(b) Department of Health and Human Services.--Of the funds made available for the Department of Health and Human Services under the heading ``Office of the Secretary, General Departmental Management'' in title II, not to exceed $25,000,000 shall be available for expenses related to conferences, including for conference programs, staff time, travel costs, and related expenses.

(c) Department of Education.--Of the funds made available for the Department of Education under the heading ``Departmental Management, Program Administration'' in title III, not to exceed $2,000,000 shall be available for expenses related to conferences, including for conference programs, staff time, travel costs, and related expenses.

Mr. COBURN. This is a very straightforward amendment. Growth in conferences in the Federal Government has exploded in the last 6 years in this country. Over the past 5 years, the Department of HHS has spent $300 million on conferences.

The idea of conferences and using communication to put forward ideas, to promote health, to promote programs is a good idea, but the expanded growth of these programs through each of these departments, Labor and Health and Human Services, has grown exponentially at the same time that technology has grown even greater. There is a lack of utilization of those technologies in a time of budget duress, in a time of tremendous debt, in a time where last year we added $546 billion to our children's debt, and we are struggling with Katrina.

This amendment caps the conference costs for each of these departments so that the other moneys can be used in more productive ways. It forces creativity through conferences. It promotes videoconferencing. It saves millions of dollars in travel and hotel costs and still allows the flexibility of the Departments for conferences, but does it with the technology we have today, a smarter, more current, and more effective means of accomplishing communication with which each of these agencies is charged.

I will limit my comments to that and respond should the chairman and ranking member have questions.

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Mr. COBURN. My only request is that the Senator would allow my staff to be there as they make this presentation. We have done significant research on their expenditures on these conferences, and we would love to have the opportunity, if the Senator so allowed it, for us to participate as they make their presentation.

Mr. SPECTER. I would think it mandatory that the Senator's staff be present.

Mr. COBURN. I thank the chairman.

Mr. SPECTER. Of course. The Senator and his staff are welcome to whatever information we have. We want the Senator to know what it is every step of the way. I believe in full disclosure. Let us find out what the facts are. It has always been a point of mine that if one comes to an agreement on the facts, they can almost always come to an agreement on policy that flows from the facts. We will set up a meeting jointly.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oklahoma.

Mr. COBURN. I ask that the pending amendment be set aside.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

AMENDMENT NO. 2232

Mr. COBURN. I call up amendment No. 2232.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. COBURN] proposes an amendment numbered 2232.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To increase funding for the AIDS drug assistance program)

On page 139, line 16, insert after the colon the following: ``Provided further, That in addition to amounts otherwise made available for State AIDS Drug Assistance Programs

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authorized by such section 2616, the Secretary shall transfer $60,000,000 from the amount appropriated under this Act for the construction and renovation of the facilities of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to carry out such Drug Assistance Programs:''.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, this amendment does not save us any money but saves hundreds of lives. Some 5 years ago, we embarked on making major changes at the CDC through a construction program, through advancing the facilities there by increasing the capabilities of the CDC. At the end of this fiscal year, September 30, they had unspent moneys in excess of $240 million going toward this construction budget. This year, the President asked for $30 million to be in that construction budget. The House passed $30 million in the construction budget. I believe we have in this bill $225 million for additional construction moneys, making available almost $500 million for expenditure in the next 12 months.

This amendment is a simple amendment. It is backed by thousands of groups in the country, and it says while people are dying from HIV, they cannot get medicines under the ADAP program because we cannot fund it significantly. We have multiple States with people on waiting lists. We have multiple States that cap the available benefits. It is a death sentence to those people with HIV today. This moves $60 million from that account into the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, a vital program to keep people working, to keep people active, and to make the lifesaving drugs available to those people with an infection of HIV who have no other access to lifesaving drugs.

I believe priorities ought to be directed toward the emerging disease program at the CDC. As a matter of fact, that building is complete. It is in the works. We are working to finalize all of that. This $60 million, which still brings us down to $165 million plus the $240 million that is in the account, will put us at $400 million still for CDC to move forward, and we will do something that has never yet been done since ADAP started: We will have enough funding to make sure everybody with HIV in this country has the medicine they need to stay alive.

I know it is a controversial question for my fellow Senators from Georgia. The CDC happens to be there. This puts no risk to the CDC expansion in Colorado, as it is directed in the budget. It puts no risk to that whatsoever. I believe we ought to be thinking about people, not buildings.

We have moved on the emerging diseases portion of this. This will not slow down any of that construction. It will, however, maybe slow down the Japanese gardens and the tremendous waterfalls and all of the gardens that are going to be there.

One other thing, the CDC has just completed a $62 million visitors center. I am asking for $60 million for people who have HIV, who are never going to get to visit the visitors center. I do not know how we spent $62 million on a visitors center for the CDC, but I believe that priority is wrong when people are dying from HIV and do not have the available medicines.

I yield until a further time.

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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I have to leave the floor to chair a subcommittee hearing. I want to spend 2 or 3 minutes.

No. 1, the head of the CDC, Dr. Gerberding, I know very well as the former head of the President's Commission on HIV/AIDS in this country.

No. 2, her submission to Congress for building funds this year was $30 million.

No. 3, the total budget for CDC is $4.5 billion. We are asking that we take $60 million in construction money and slow it down and save the lives of thousands of people in this country by making available drugs to them.

We need the facilities at CDC; I am not debating that. This is about saving lives and the priorities of putting that money in a place where it will save lives.

I yield the floor, and I thank the chairman and the Senator from Georgia for their collegiality in working on this amendment.

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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I have an amendment that will transfer $60 million to save the lives of people who are infected with HIV. There is no question where I get this money. It is a good goal. Enhancing the CDC, the buildings, the development of that, is all good. We have been on a fast track to do that in 5 years. That ought to continue.

What I am saying with this amendment is, since this amount is eight times what the President requested, we ought to put saving lives right now in this country at this time ahead of speeding up buildings. If my colleagues agree with that, then they ought to be supporting this amendment. If they do not, do not support it.

I reserve the remainder of my time.

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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, if you have HIV today and you don't have health insurance and you are standing in line to get HIV retrovirus therapy and heart therapy and they tell you they don't have enough money, you are out of luck. In this country, where we have invested so much in this disease, to put anybody out of luck--we have invested a lot of money in the ADAP program, but it is not enough, and people are dying every year in this country because we are not doing it. It is time we should do it.

http://thomas.loc.gov/

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