INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS -- (Senate - September 25, 2008)
Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I wish to expand a minute on the purposes of this.
The American people should know we have a law called the improper payments law where every agency is supposed to report to Congress every year the amount of improper payments, both over and under, and how that affects their budgets and their goals. Less than 50 percent of the agencies file that report with Congress. The reason they don't is because we don't make them. We don't say: Your funding is contingent upon you following the law. So, regrettably, I objected to what Senator Kohl--I actually agree with the things we are doing in the bill, but we won't accomplish what we want to accomplish if we don't make the Justice Department report to us and have metrics to see that the money we are going to spend--not ours; actually, it is going to be the money of the next generation--is spent wisely and is effective in doing what we want to get done.
It is my hope before we leave here that we can work out a compromise. I have spoken with Senator Specter. I have not had a chance to visit with Senator Leahy. I intend to do that today. We have given in a lot of areas on this bill, especially the spending amounts.
I also note the Justice Department ended last year with $1.72 billion in unobligated balances. They are the only agency that gets to keep their money, and they get to decide--not us--what they are going to do with that $1.72 billion. So there is plenty of money in the Justice Department right now to do this program.
We have to decide whether we are going to put teeth in what we tell agencies to do. My hope is we will start doing that.
I was going to spend some time now talking about the continuing resolution. I am going to reserve that and try to come back at a different time and try to reach Senator Specter and Senator Leahy on this IP bill in the hopes we can get something worked out.
With that, I yield the floor and note that we would obviously be in recess.