Senate Rejects Coburn/McCain Amendments to Restrain Spending; Protect Private Property Rights
Amendments offered to pork-laden lands bill
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. today expressed disappointment that the Senate rejected four amendments to a public lands bill, S. 2739 the "Consolidated Natural Resources Act," that would have protected private property rights and forced Congress to pay for new spending in the bill with spending cuts elsewhere. U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) co-sponsored each amendment.
"Across America, families are tightening their belts. Yet, despite a sluggish economy, Congress continues to believe it's entitled to spend as much as it desires without making choices about spending. The Senate's refusal to pay for any the new costs of this without any belt-tightening of its own is one reason why Congress' approval ratings are at an all-time low," Dr. Coburn said.
"Our nation was built on a tradition of service and sacrifice in which one generation sacrifices for the next. Yet, Congress has become a parochial body that puts the short-term desires of politicians and special interests ahead of the national interest. For instance, the National Park Service (NPS) faces a $9 billion maintenance backlog yet Congress just voted to spend $380 million on new projects that will help politicians look good in the next election. I appreciate my colleagues who recognize that we are on unsustainable fiscal course and are willing to challenge the status quo in Washington," Dr. Coburn said.
With our nation nearly $10 trillion in debt and our troops serving in harm's way overseas, Congress today voted to borrow more money to pay for these new priorities in S. 2739:
· "Such sums as are necessary" (CBO estimates $250,000) for the federal government to initiate a three year study of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Labor Movement, to determine if relevant sites should be recognized and preserved.
· $9 million over five years for the Northern Mariana Islands to send a delegate to Congress. The delegate will have a full House staff, and the expected cost just next year is $1 million. The island has 60,000 residents. The average House district is around 650,000 people.
· $2 million to create a commission to celebrate "the 200th anniversary of the voyage of Robert Fulton in the Clermont, and the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Henry Hudson in the Half Moon."
· $2 million to create a commission to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Samuel de Champlain.
· "Such sums as are necessary" (a blank check) for the establishment of the Piedras Blancas Historic Light Station Outstanding Natural Area (near the world famous Hearst Castle in California).
· A $12 million earmark to help the Eastern Municipal Water District in California in the design, planning, and construction of permanent facilities needed to establish operational pressure zones that will be used to provide recycled water in the district."
The Senate considered the following Coburn/McCain amendments. Complete background on the amendments is at http://coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=RightNow.Home.
Amendment 4522 requiring an annual report detailing the amount of property the federal government owns and the cost of government land ownership to taxpayers was defeated by a vote of 30 to 63.
Amendment 4521 requiring citizens' approval and periodic renewal by referendum of any taking of property by the Departments of Interior, Energy or Agriculture was defeated by a vote of 19 to 76.
Amendment 4520 requiring that citizens within a National Heritage Area are informed of the designation, and that government officials must receive permission to enter private property, was defeated by a margin of 27 to 67.
Amendment 4519 that would have set aside one percent of any spending appropriated to carry out the new authorizations within the bill to be used to pay for the disposal of excess, unused and unneeded Federal property to offset some of the costs of the bill was defeated by a vote of 22 to 73.