Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I wish to share my concerns regarding the process currently being utilized by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to pass legislation on the Senate floor. As many of my colleagues know, I am currently objecting to unanimous consent on two en bloc packages reported by the committee, containing more than 40 bills.
I want to make clear to my colleagues that I do not object to all of the bills contained in the two packages. In fact, I have offered to give consent to all those bills where I have no fiscal or policy concerns. Unfortunately, the committee is insisting on passing all of the legislation en bloc and will not allow the noncontroversial bills to be released for passage. These bills are in effect being held hostage by the committee.
As my colleagues know, I evaluate all unanimous consent requests, in part, on whether the proposed legislation increases authorizations for spending. If it does, I also look to see whether the new cost has been offset by a corresponding reduction in another program authorization. I also review each bill for specific policy concerns.
Of most concern to me, the two packages authorize over $150 million in new spending, without a single offset. This does not include the $640 million reauthorization for the Geologic Mapping Program. I have offered to work with the committee to identify possible offsets that would allow the en bloc packages to move forward. Given the considerable program oversight performed by the committee, I am eager to hear where it believes other programs may not be working as intended or where they may have become of a lesser priority than the bills currently under consideration.
As stewards of the Federal tax dollar, I believe it is imperative we proceed with the hard but necessary work of prioritizing our spending. Every American taxpayer is forced to do this every day, and so should we. Prioritization begins with the authorization process, and so does long-term fiscal discipline.
I renew my pledge to work with any Member of this body to identify offsets, to ensure that our actions today never add to the already heavy financial burden we have placed on the next generation of Americans.
It is my hope the committee will abandon the practice of en bloc unanimous consent requests. Each bill should be considered on its merits, and if it is truly worthwhile, should be allowed to stand on its own. As an institution, this Senate is more than capable of this task.
To make the Record absolutely clear, I am including the list of noncontroversial bills in these packages that should be cleared and allowed to pass under unanimous consent: S. 216, S. 266, S. 241, S. 202, S. 232, S. 262, S. 220, H.R. 386, S. 320, S. 553, H.R. 497, H.R. 658, S. 1139, H.R. 235, H.R. 482, H.R. 467.