Dr. Coburn Credits Emmett Till Justice Campaign with Passage of Civil Rights Legislation
Pledges to force debate and spending cuts on even more bills next Congress
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today helped pass the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act after Senate leaders signaled their intent to kill a compromise proposal supported by the Emmett Till Justice Campaign.
"Alvin Sykes, the head of the Emmett Till Justice Campaign, has worked tirelessly to pass this civil rights legislation ever since he promised Emmett Till's dying mother that he would help bring justice to the perpetrators of these evil crimes. Mr. Sykes stood strong on his values and principles and was determined to finish his job as he waded through the swamp of Washington's politics. His heart, integrity and determination are unmatched. I congratulate him on a job well done and on promises kept. Politicians in Washington can learn a lot from his example," Dr. Coburn said.
"Still, I'm disappointed by the majority's cynical manipulation of this issue and willingness to exploit for partisan gain the efforts of those who worked for many decades to prosecute these crimes. Cutting lesser priorities within the bloated federal budget could have paid for this legislation, but congressional leaders refused to eliminate pet projects back home or demand the Department of Justice direct funds to pay for solving these civil rights violations. Over the past three years, I have identified numerous examples of wasteful spending within the Department of Justice that could be eliminated to pay for the Emmett Till bill and was time and again rejected because Washington politicians insisted that they do not and should not have to pay for any new spending that Congress authorizes," Dr. Coburn said.
"Taxpayers deserve to know that the Department of Justice ended the last two fiscal years with $1.6 billion in unspent money that will not be returned to the taxpayers. Yet, instead of allowing the DOJ to direct a tiny fraction of that sum to prosecuting unsolved civil rights crimes, Senate leaders have instead insisted that taxpayers provide DOJ with another $63 million more for this purpose," Dr. Coburn said.
"For the victims of these decades-old crimes, justice delayed is justice denied. Yet, it is also unjust that Congress' borrow and spend approach to passing legislation will burden future generations with the cost of today's well-intentioned, but fiscally irresponsible, efforts to seek justice in these cases. Future generations of Americans who will inherit a $9 trillion national debt will, unfortunately, pay to make amends for Congress' decision to live beyond its means," Dr. Coburn said.
"The events of the last few weeks in the financial sector have highlighted the dangers of borrowing without regard to consequences. Unfortunately, Congress is continuing its business-as-usual spending practices. When the Senate reconvenes next year I look forward to forcing debate on even more bills that increase spending but are not paid for with spending cuts. I make no apologies for using every procedural tool at my disposal to try to force this body to live within its means. In the 110th Congress, nearly 900 bills have passed in secret with no debate, no amendments and no recorded vote through the hotline' process. I eventually allowed nearly 95 percent of those bills to pass. Next year, in light of our financial crisis and the majority's refusal to pay for new programs with spending offsets, far fewer of those bills will become law," Dr. Coburn said.