or Login to see your representatives.

Access Candidates' and Representatives' Biographies, Voting Records, Interest Group Ratings, Issue Positions, Public Statements, and Campaign Finances

Simply enter your zip code above to get to all of your candidates and representatives, or enter a name. Then, just click on the person you are interested in, and you can navigate to the categories of information we track for them.

Public Statements

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2007

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2007 -- (Senate - July 12, 2006)

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. COBURN] proposes an amendment numbered 4562.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that 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. 5441 shall also be included in the conference report or joint statement accompanying H.R. 5441 in order to be considered as having been approved by both Houses of Congress.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, this is an amendment we have had several times on appropriations bills. It is about sunshine, pure and simple. What most Americans do not realize is that when conference reports come on appropriations bills, there are things that are added in the House that we in the Senate do not have any idea of what they are. They are not printed except in the report language. When we vote on the bill, we have no awareness whatsoever of what those things are.

This is a fairly simple amendment that just ensures that every earmark or directive must be included in the final Homeland Security appropriations bill that is approved by both Chambers. The American people ought to get to see that, and we ought to be able to know, as Senators, what is in the bill.

This amendment is for transparency. It adds to the debate, and it provides the American taxpayers an additional safeguard that their money is not wasted on unnecessary projects that might jeopardize the Nation's fiscal health or lessen the impact of the Homeland Security bill.

The first time I offered this amendment, it was defeated. The second time I offered it, last year, we won it, and the third time we won it on separate appropriations bills. Thereafter, it was agreed to. That is all good and fine. But after it was done on every appropriations bill, it was dropped in conference, saying: We don't need to know what we are voting on. We don't need to have the information that we are having. The American people shouldn't know what we are voting on, and we shouldn't know what we are voting on.

I believe this is something that we ought to put into every appropriations bill. We ought to know what we are voting on. We ought to know who is responsible for what is in there. And we ought to be able to go home and defend it or object to it here on the floor. But nobody can make a case for us not knowing what is in the bill.

So my hope would be that the secrecy of the appropriations process or the sleight of hand in how things are written, so nobody can know where it is going or who put it there, would be eliminated. All this is is a sunshine amendment saying: We ought to know. My hope is we will accept this amendment, one, and then we will keep it in in conference so that when a conference bill comes back out, we can know what the House did on earmarks and directives, as well as knowing what we did.

I think it is a commonsense amendment. My hope would be the chairman and ranking member of this committee would accept this amendment.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, reserving the right to object for one moment, I want to make a point. The example used of the Senator from West Virginia is exactly the way it ought to be done. It is out in the open. There is direction. His name is tied to an amendment. And everybody in America who is watching this place knows who is doing what they are doing.

This amendment is to make sure that happens. The point is not what we are doing. This amendment is as to what the House is doing. And I would confirm with the Senator, the chairman, that this is a great bill in terms of earmarks. There are very few in it. We study every bill to see where it is and what the direction is. My hope is that an example will be set. There are a couple of earmarks, directives in this bill we will be talking about in amendments, but I will tell the Senator that I agree and I appreciate the fact that we are seeing a little bit of a change in culture in that regard.

My hope would be, also--I might ask the Senator--if he would agree to hold this in conference so we can see what the House does when we come to the conference report.

With that, I withdraw my objection.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

AMENDMENT NO. 4561

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the pending amendment be set aside and that amendment No. 4561 be called up.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The clerk will report.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. COBURN] proposes an amendment numbered 4561.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that 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 reports required in the bill to be submitted to the Committees on Appropriations and the Department of Homeland Security's annual justifications of the President's budget request shall be posted on the Department of Homeland Security's public website not later than 48 hours after such submission unless information in the report compromises national security)

At the appropriate place, insert the following:

Sec. __. Any reports required in this Act and accompanying reports to be submitted to the Committees on Appropriations and the Department of Homeland Security's annual justifications of the President's budget request shall be posted on the Department of Homeland Security's public website not later than 48 hours after such submission unless information in the report compromises national security.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, this requires public disclosure of all reports delivered to the Appropriations Committee, including the President's justification on his budget, with the exception of national security issues by the Department of Homeland Security, so that everybody can see what the request is, what the justification for the request is, and what the reports are.

Unfortunately, in this bill, there is a section that requires the opposite. There is a directive that says they are not to release it to the American public, that they are only to release it to the Appropriations Committee. A little bit of experience: This year, when the President's budget request came up, and the justifications for it, as a U.S. Senator it was unavailable to me. It was unavailable to my staff. It was unavailable to any staff except Appropriations staff. They do a good job. But as to the justifications for the request, just like the Senator from New Hampshire said--we have the right of the purse strings. The House and the Senate have the right to say where the money goes. If we cannot have the justifications for why the President's budget is so numbered and divided, then we will not have the ability to defend that--and that is those people outside of the Appropriations Committee.

In the committee report is this sentence:

The committee is deeply disappointed in the actions taken by the Department to combine the reporting requirements of this committee with other reports and then releasing the results of those reports publicly prior to submission to the committee. Reports to the committee are not expected to be turned into publicity events again in the future.

Well, whose business is this? It is the American people's business; it is not just the Appropriations Committee's business. And it is the other Senators' business. And it is the other Congressmen's business. It is not just one committee's business. They have the authority and the obligation to bring it to the floor, but the knowledge of what the President requests and the knowledge of the reports required by bills that we all vote on coming back to the Congress should be shared with the American people.

All this amendment says is that 48 hours after they report it to the committee--and they should get it first; I adamantly agree they should see those reports first, since they are the ones who asked for them--it becomes on line and available to the rest of the Senators, the rest of the Congressmen, and, beyond that, the rest of the American people.

Why should they not see the President's budgetary request?

As a matter of fact, Josh Bolton, before becoming Chief of Staff for the President, was head of the OMB, and he agreed last year that this year they would put that all on line at the time they give it to the Appropriations Committee. This is simply another sunshine amendment.

Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. COBURN. I am happy to.

Mr. DURBIN. I would like to ask the Senator, in the spirit of full disclosure, when we considered the asbestos bill, which the Senator supported, there was one corporation that would have benefited to the tune of more than $1 billion by that asbestos bill. In the interest of full disclosure of special interest groups and who is pushing legislation, would the Senator from Oklahoma also demand that kind of disclosure so we know if there is a change of a word or two, and one corporation, one lobbyist, or one special interest group is a big winner in a bill that is not an appropriations bill? Is the Senator from Oklahoma going to demand the same disclosure?

Mr. COBURN. Certainly, in answer to the Senator's question. On the trust fund, we never got to know who was going to give the money. It was same thing. So there are big problems everywhere. I believe in sunshine everywhere. You won't see me fighting sunshine. The people of this country deserve to know what is in the bills, what is in the reports, and what is in the requests and the justifications.

Mr. DURBIN. Will the Senator yield?

Mr. COBURN. I only have 45 minutes to get through three other amendments. I don't want to put this into a political game. What I want to do is talk about what the American people ought to be getting from us. This language ought to be changed so that we accept the Appropriations Committee getting the reports early, but then the Department of Homeland Security making it available to the rest of the American public, provided it doesn't have a security implication within it. It is a very straightforward amendment. I hope the committee will accept it and keep it in in conference.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

AMENDMENT NO. 4585

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the pending amendment be set aside and amendment No. 4585 be called up.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The clerk will report.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. COBURN] proposes an amendment numbered 4585.

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

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

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To prohibit the use of funds available to the Coast Guard for operating expenses for the continuation of operations of Long Range Aids to Navigation stations nationwide)

After section 539, insert the following:

Sec. 540. None of the amounts available or otherwise available to the Coast Guard under title II of this Act under the heading ``United States Coast Guard'' under the heading ``operating expenses'' may be obligated or expended for the continuation of operations at Long Range Aids to Navigation (LORAN) stations nationwide.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I know there is going to be a radical difference of opinion on this amendment. Let me explain. This is about the LORAN stations nationwide. This is an old-time aid to navigation that this bill has requested another study of. This has been studied. There are volumes of reports from every agency of the Federal Government that has anything to do with this. All of them say we don't need this system anymore.

LORAN stands for long-range aids to navigation. The original LORAN-A system was developed during World War II. LORAN-C, where we are today, was developed during the 1950s and 1960s. There are 24 LORAN stations across the United States. One of them is actually in my State.

These stations send out radio signals and LORAN receivers on board vessels and aircraft measure the differences in the time that it takes for a signal to come back and determine both the longitudinal and latitudinal positions. It is used rarely for some civilian navigation, but it is no longer a primary source for civilian navigation needs because it has been replaced with a far superior system called global positioning or a satellite-based system. That has been totally functioning since 1994.

The plan was released February 10, 2006. It was prepared by the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard requested to terminate this program. There is no longer a need for the Coast Guard for either primary or secondary. If GPS fails, there are other systems that back it up besides LORAN. And it is not needed for the Department of Transportation. The Department of Defense said they don't need it. The Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, and the FAA said they do not need it. In this bill, it calls for DHS and DOT to submit a report to the Senate Appropriations Committee that requires them to come up with excuses to continue the LORAN operation. Here is the report.

I would like to submit for the RECORD the report and also the statement of administration policy on this.

The administration objects to this provision because it is going to postpone the inevitable. This is a program that we don't need. Every agency of the Federal Government that uses this program or has been involved with it says they don't need it anymore. There are special interests that might want it, but the country doesn't need it. The Government doesn't need it. You don't need it for navigational purposes.

I am quoting now:

The Department of Transportation has conducted numerous studies that make clear that the benefits of terminating the LORAN system far outweigh the costs. Furthermore, as discussed in the Subcommittee Report, the Global Positioning System is a far superior navigational aid, with sufficient backup capabilities in place to meet the Coast Guard's needs for the Maritime Transportation System [and to meet the FAA's need for air travel, and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Department of Transportation].

I ask unanimous consent to print that in the RECORD.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. COBURN. I draw the attention of my colleagues to the formal report on the LORAN system as put forward by the three agencies.

We are going to hear debate that there is not sufficient backup. Let me answer that first. The 2005 Federal Radio Navigational Plan reported that the U.S. Coast Guard has determined that there are backups. LORAN is not needed for it. In case there is a GPS failure, conventional navigation is used, using all available equipment which includes GPS, DGPS, radar, lights, buoys, celestial navigation, daymarks, and dead reckoning. There are seven backups besides this.

Coast Guard Congressional Affairs has indicated that LORAN is one of many backups. It is not needed for aviation backup. They have very high-frequency omnidirectional beacons that give the same backup. Distance measuring equipment, the ILS systems, a backup to GPS, it is not going to be long when we won't even have ILS systems at airports. We will probably have somebody who wants to keep those in. The fact is, we need to recognize the technology. These dollars would be better spent somewhere else.

The Coast Guard is going to spend $35 million in 2007 on operations and the maintenance of the LORAN system. The Federal Aviation Administration will spend between $15 and $25 million on recapitalization. The Coast Guard tried to start getting rid of this in 2000. The FAA at that time said they still needed it. They now no longer need it. It will take another 6 to 10 years and another $300 million to complete the recapitalization that was mandated since 2000 for a program this isn't needed.

Here are the savings: $500 million over the next 7 years if we go on and terminate a program that we don't need and nobody needs as a backup.

The Senate report on this bill and the proponents of LORAN will claim that GPS used along with LORAN provides the most accurate positioning. That is one of the claims. They aren't even used in tandem anymore. If you are looking at GPS, you don't use the LORAN system. And GPS is far superior to anything that LORAN could give us. One of the claims will be that shutting down will adversely affect other Federal agencies that use LORAN. The navigational plan asked for by this Congress indicated that it is no longer a mission-essential device. It is not needed for either a primary or secondary source for positioning, navigation, or timing for the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, or the Department of Homeland Security. Who is that? That is the FAA, the Maritime Commission, the Coast Guard, all of them saying: We don't need this. Yet we are going to spend another $500 million over the next 7 years if we don't get rid of it.

So it is simple. Somebody wants it, yes. Why? There are special interests that will want this to continue. But the fact is, a half a billion dollars is a lot of money that we don't have. We ought to eliminate this program. I know there are others who disagree with that. I look forward to the debate.

I yield the floor at this time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I have a couple of comments to the Senator from Washington State. LORAN won't go away if this instruction for this study is taken out. There are still 4 years that LORAN will be there under the Coast Guard's plan. I also remind the Senator that the FAA has already said they don't need it. The Maritime Commission has said they don't need it. The Coast Guard has said they don't need it. Who needs it when we have other backups? It is true that in 2000 the FAA said we don't have sufficient backup to eliminate LORAN. They have since, in the report--the study that has already been made--said they don't need it. So this is a report to extend the life of LORAN, something that we don't need.

I know the Senator from Alaska will oppose this. I look forward to a vigorous debate with him.

I will soon ask unanimous consent again to submit the 2005 Federal radio navigational plan into the RECORD so everybody can see all the claims that have been made by the groups that supposedly don't need it. The plan has already been done. It is not required as a navigational backup.

Now, will some people somewhere want to get a better navigational system? Yes. You can buy a GPS system for a boat now for about $300 and you can have something far superior than LORAN ever was or you can use the VOR system or one of the myriad--seven other backups for maritime without using LORAN.

With that, I ask unanimous consent that this amendment be set aside, and I will call up another amendment.

BREAK IN TRASNCRIPT

AMENDMENT NO. 4589

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I ask that amendment No. 4589 be called up.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. COBURN] proposes an amendment numbered 4589.

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

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

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To reduce appropriations available for certain training, exercises, technical assistance, and other programs)

At the appropriate place, add the following:

Nothwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the amount made available in title III of this Act under the heading ``Office for Domestic Preparedness, State and Local Programs'' is reduced by $25,000,000 and the amount made available under such heading for ``training, exercises, technical assistance, and other programs'' is reduced by $25,000,000

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, this is a very simple amendment. The Improper Payment Information Act was enacted in 2002. It was very specific, and Congress was very wise to do it. What it said is that the agencies have to make an assessment of improper payments.

Now, what the American people don't know is that at least $65 billion in improper payments--payments made by the Federal Government to people who don't deserve to get them--are made every year. Think about that: $1.6 billion in food stamps; $20-some billion at the Pentagon; $42 billion in Medicare improper payments; $30 billion in Medicaid improper payments. So the $60 billion number I quote is a very conservative estimate.

What we saw with Katrina is that tons of improper payments were made. But we had the Department of Homeland Security say they didn't have any improper payments. That is what they asserted to this Congress in 2005. The fact is that they didn't do the studies which were necessary to assess whether they were at risk. The $65 billion that I quote represents only 18 of 70 entities of the Federal Government, and it is only 18 out of 70 that are reporting.

The Department of Homeland Security, in its fiscal year 2004 performance and accountability report, said none of its programs or activities were deemed to be at significant risk for making improper payments. The OMB put some special definitions on what that is. It is $10 million or 2.5 percent. We know of at least a billion dollars that has been wasted in Katrina that we can document right now. The Department has since admitted they are finding and reporting improper payments for 2005 that were not in full compliance with the law.

We are seeing that everywhere in my Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, where we look at these agencies. They actually ignore the law and don't make a concerted effort. Senator Obama and I asked in September that a chief financial officer be set up in terms of the response in September of last year to Katrina. We never got that through, but had we gotten that through, we would be a billion dollars ahead of where we are today, just in terms of the funds for Katrina.

The price tag is going to be over $200 billion in Federal money by the time we finish. If you take the rate of improper payments within DHS just in terms of Katrina, we are probably going to have $2 billion or $3 billion in improper payments.

For the record, I believe it is important that the American public know why we ought to be having an assessment of how we spend our money. Sixteen percent of the dollars and assistance initially spent after Katrina and Rita was spent on divorce, sex changes--bogus things--and $1.5 million went to credit card waste, a 1-week Caribbean vacation, five season tickets to the New Orleans Saints, and Dom Perignon in San Antonio. A thousand credit cards were given to people with Social Security numbers belonging to State and Federal prisoners, and $14,000 was given to an inmate in a Louisiana jail. Subcontracting--we were to pay, on average, $32 per cubic yard for debris removal, but the actual cost was $68. We had the rest taken up in layers of subcontractors. I could go on and on, but I will not.

This amendment gives a million dollars to the Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Homeland Security and says: Do improper payments reporting. I ask that this be accepted by the committee because it makes common sense and we have a real problem in Homeland Security with waste, fraud, and abuse. To start fixing that, we must know what the problem is.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I made an error in the number of the amendment I called up. I ask unanimous consent that the amendment be set aside and the true number be 4590 instead of 4589 and that the debate be considered with regard to No. 4590 rather than 4589.

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

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I wish to respond to the chairman for a minute. I know this isn't going to solve the problem. This takes away the excuse for not doing proper payment analysis at the Department of Homeland Security. I know they are working hard in that regard.

Mr. President, I note that the Senator from Alaska is here. I wonder if we might recall amendment No. 4585.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Does the Senator wish to report 4590 first?

AMENDMENT NO. 4590

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I ask that amendment No. 4590 be reported.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. COBURN] proposes an amendment numbered 4590.

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

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

The amendment is as follows:
(Purpose: To make appropriations available for the Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Homeland Security to ensure compliance with the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002 (31 U.S.C. 3321 note)

On page 127, between lines 2 and 3 insert the following:

Sec. __. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, $1,000,000 shall be made available from appropriations for training, exercises, technical assistance, and other programs under paragraph (4) under the subheading ``state and local programs'' under the heading ``Office for Domestic Preparedness'' under title III, for the Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Homeland Security to ensure compliance with the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002 (31 U.S.C. 3321 note).

Mr. STEVENS. Reserving the right to object, is that the pending amendment?

The PRESIDING OFFICER. That was the amendment that was just brought up. That was the amendment that was the subject of the previous discussion.

Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, can I clarify? It is very confusing. The Senator from Oklahoma called up the wrong amendment. Would the Chair explain exactly what is the pending amendment?

Mr. COBURN. The pending amendment is exactly as I described. It is an amendment that moves $1 million to the chief financial officer of Homeland Security so they will do the improper payments report.

Mr. GREGG. I believe that amendment has been agreed to and disposed of.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. I think the problem is the Senator mentioned the wrong number. It is not 4589; it is 4590, and the Senate agreed to 4590.

Mr. COBURN. That is correct.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I thank the Senator for his words. I want to clarify something which is just my understanding, and please correct me if I am wrong.

The GPS is never limited by line of sight. It is a satellite. It is the LORAN system that is limited by line of sight. The mountainous structures in Alaska limit the LORAN system. GPS is far superior to the LORAN system. That is accurate. Both as a pilot I know that and from what we have said.

The other point that I would make--

Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, if I could just answer that.

Mr. COBURN. I am happy to yield to the Senator.

Mr. STEVENS. The Senator is right, but at the same time, he is wrong. Satellites don't work everywhere in Alaska because of problems in updating their signal. The same is true for GPS. You must have a satellite signal that can reach for GPS.

Mr. COBURN. I would concede that.

Mr. STEVENS. Many places in our State did not have access to GPS because the satellite is not ubiquitous for the world. It does not come down in some places of our State.

Mr. COBURN. I would concede to the Senator that there are occasional times that the GPS cannot be utilized. I would concede that.

Mr. STEVENS. I want to make certain, Mr. President, that the Senator understands what I am saying. There are places where GPS cannot be accessed in Alaska.

Mr. COBURN. There are also places where LORAN cannot be accessed in Alaska today.

Mr. STEVENS. That is true, in some places. But where it has been operating, LORAN is relied upon in places where GPS cannot reach.

Mr. COBURN. I would concede to the Senator that LORAN can be used in places where GPS cannot be utilized. But I would also concede that the study that asked for this has already been done. Everything that this study asked for has already been put forward. The 2005 Federal Radionavigation Plan answers every question you have asked in this amendment.

What the Department of Transportation says, what the FAA says, what the Maritime Commission says, what the U.S. Coast Guard says is LORAN is not needed for a backup for a navigational system anywhere in this country. That is what they say, and that is what you are asking for. They have also done a cost-benefit analysis, and they have said, without question, the cost-benefit is on the side of eliminating LORAN.

Let's talk about what it will cost. The Government estimates it will cost $300 million to upgrade the LORAN system in Alaska over the next 6 to 7 years. And what they are certifying--and I understand the concern of the Senator from Alaska because some people might not have a system they are used to today. But when these agencies certified that LORAN is not needed as a secondary backup, that is what you are asking them for in the study, and they have already said it is not needed.

Mr. STEVENS. Will the Senator yield? That is not what I am asking for.

Mr. COBURN. I will finish my point, and then I will turn the time over to the Senator.

Mr. President, the Federal Radionavigation Plan is a 120-page report. Let me just go through it real quickly.

FAA has said: Sufficient alternative navigational aids exist in the event of a loss of GPS-based services. They have VOR, which they have in Alaska.

The Maritime Administration determined that there would not be significant disruption in the movement of vessels in and out of U.S. ports or affect commercial enterprises as traditional aids to navigation are still in use and capable.

The Department of Homeland Security has determined that LORAN-C is not needed as a backup for timing users, as adequate alternatives are already in place.

The Federal Railroad Administration said they have no need for LORAN.

The bottom line: The accuracy of LORAN in these areas can be equally degraded and compromised, and therefore, there would be no material degradation in navigational safety should GPS be the only RNAV source for Alaska. Traditional backups for maritime navigation would still be in place: VTSs, buoys, ranges, radar, lighthouses, and fathometers. Since 1997, $160 million has been appropriated to recapitalize LORAN. $117.5 million of that has been transferred to the Coast Guard. It is estimated that it will take another 6 to 10 years and $300-plus million to recapitalize that.

The point is, even without the amendment of the Senator from Alaska, his addition in committee, it is 4 years before this is decommissioned. So it gives 4 years for anybody who has any problem with it a chance to adjust to that problem.

I would offer to the Senator from Alaska that there might be a compromise that we could discuss in keeping LORAN working just for Alaska where there is a problem, rather than keeping LORAN working everywhere else there is not a problem. I would suggest there may be a compromise to address the issues of concern that the Senator from Alaska has, that would also save us a considerable amount of money and solve his problems with those who feel at risk without elimination of LORAN. I yield to the Senator.

Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, the Senator is quite generous in his suggestion, but I have to say that we heard on April 18 of this year from the Department of Transportation the following:

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I would just make a couple of points.

Norm Mineta of the Department of Transportation signed this report on October 21, 2005--the Secretary of the Department of Transportation--the Federal Radionavigation Plan. So for the Department of Transportation to claim now that they didn't agree with this report, when their Secretary and his staff signed off on the report, there is something amiss. There is some miscommunication.

What I would like to do is note the absence of a quorum in the hopes that I could work with the Senators from Alaska and Washington to come to a compromise on this amendment.

Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, if the Senator will withhold, I would like to make one point with a letter I am quoting from, dated April 18, 2006. It was addressed to Assistant Secretary of Policy at Homeland Security, and it says:

The future of LORAN should be determined by reference to the broader national interest. Might LORAN serve as the backup to GPS contemplated by the mandates of NSPD 39? Apart from its potential as a backup to GPS, does its robust, low-frequency, penetrating signal offer potential value in our effort to secure the international supply chain? Are there other possible backups to GPS that offer clear advantages over LORAN?

None of that has been answered.

Now, certainly, this is after the Secretary signed off on that plan, but the idea of abandoning LORAN prematurely was not signed off on by the Department, to my knowledge.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I would note that in the report, the considerations for backups are very well and very explicitly listed, including Alaska's backup system. So I agree that there is some confusion and there certainly is some difference in what was signed off on the report and what we are hearing now.

I would ask to note the absence of a quorum.

Mr. GREGG. Mr. President, if the Senator will withhold, I would suggest that we move on to another amendment. Senator Biden is here, he could proceed with his amendment, and during that time Senators could perhaps work something out.

Mr. COBURN. I have no objection.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

AMENDMENT NO. 4585, AS MODIFIED

Mr. COBURN. I do. I have a modification of amendment No. 4585.

The amendment will remain intact with the following added at the bottom which says ``except in Alaska, far Northwest, and far Northeast Continental United States of America.''

I want to be clear that the RECORD show what that means; that is, they can dismantle LORAN everywhere except there. And that would protect specifically Nantucket, Caribou, George, and all six in Alaska. The study would still go forward for those areas only, not for the rest of the country. The dismantling of these areas that are not used would be able to continue as the administration and the Federal Radio Navigational Plan suggests.

I ask unanimous consent that the amendment be accepted.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, the amendment is so modified.

The amendment (No. 4585), as modified, is as follows:

After section 539, insert the following:

Sec. 540. None of the amounts available or otherwise available to the Coast Guard under title II of this Act under the heading ``United States Coast Guard'' under the heading ``operating expenses'' may be obligated or expended for the continuation of operations at Long Range Aids to Navigation (LORAN) stations nationwide, except in Alaska, far northwest, and far northeast continental United States of America.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

http://thomas.loc.gov/

Back to top