Senate Approves Coburn's Disclosure and Spending Restraint Amendments to DoD Spending Bill
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today after the Senate accepted four of his amendments to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill.
"Every dollar Congress wastes on less-than-vital conferences or earmarks is a dollar that is not available to help our troops. I'm pleased that my colleagues supported these measures that will add much-needed accountability and transparency to our defense budget," Dr. Coburn said.
"In a time of war, it is unconscionable for Congress to avoid the hard work of making choices about priorities," Dr. Coburn said. "Also, by casting more sunshine on this process, Congress will help the American people hold us accountable to make decisions that will serve our country and troops, not our own political campaigns."
"As these items are considered in House-Senate conference negotiations, I trust that the public's clear expectation and demand for financial transparency, as well as the Senate's overwhelming support for these measures, will persuade members to send these items to the President for his signature," Dr. Coburn said.
Amendment 4848, approved by a vote of 96 to 1 with U.S. Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) casting the lone dissenting vote, requires an analysis of the total cost of earmarks and the effectiveness of each in meeting the goals of the DoD.
Amendment 4787, approved by a voice vote after a motion to table the amendment failed by a vote of 36 to 60, would cap at $70 million the amount the Defense Department could spend on conference travel. Last year, the Pentagon spent $77 million to send 36,000 military and civilian employees to 6,600 conferences worldwide at an average cost of $2,200 per person. Of those 6,600 conferences, 663 were held in Florida during the middle of the winter, 224 were held in Las Vegas and 98 were held in Hawaii.
Amendment 4784 was approved by voice vote and would require reports for Appropriations Committees to be publicly posted on the DoD Web site. Coburn argued that all Senators, members of the media and taxpayers, not just members of the Appropriations Committee, should be able to access that information.
Amendment 4785, approved 96-0, requires the DoD to improve the methodology for estimating improper payments related to travel and to provide risk assessments that determine whether or not travel payments at the agency are at significant risk for making improper payments.