Dr. Coburn Disappointed Massive Funding Bill Includes Earmarks, Wasteful Spending and Unjustified Cuts
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today regarding his intention to extend debate on a massive $463 billion spending bill:
"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," Dr. Coburn said.
"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," Dr. Coburn said.
The continuing resolution (CR) measure, 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."
The CR also cuts numerous high-priority programs while doing nothing to eliminate wasteful programs like the infamous corporate welfare boondoggle Advanced Technology Program.
The CR inexplicably cuts $3 billion that is vital to continuing the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. Blocking this funding will result in billions and lost savings and cause damaging fiscal ripple effects throughout our military's budget.
The CR also steals $1.2 billion in funding from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) to finance more government spending. The CVF is a self-funding program initiated during the Reagan administration that makes criminals literally pay for their crime.
Finally, the CR slashes $30 million for the Baby AIDS program which provides for the early diagnosis of HIV/AIDS. Cutting these funds puts thousands of babies needlessly at risk of HIV/AIDS infection.
"Rather than ramming through a massive spending bill that reflects a lack of sound fiscal judgment, I hope the Majority Leader will allow Senators to debate and improve this bill. The Majority Leader should at least extend this CR for one month so the Senate will have time to have a rational debate about priorities. Government has operated just fine for the last four months under a CR. Extending the CR for one month will do nothing to disrupt the nation's business," Dr. Coburn said.