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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, the problem with this is the earmarks. It is not that New York may not need this. It is that you have taken 50 percent of the money for 10 States. The other 40 States will have to divide the remaining portion of this money for those types of emergency centers and the calculation of risk. It ought to be true competition based on real risk. There is no question New York has greater risk than Oklahoma; that I do not deny. But the fact is, we have taken half the money away from 40 other States and said: You have to compete on the remaining portion, and you may have requirements greater than those earmarked in the bill.
I support this amendment. I wholeheartedly ask my colleagues to do the same.
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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, in 2007 I offered this direct amendment. We spent 3 hours on it on the Senate floor. Everybody agreed we needed to get rid of this program then. We had some concerns. The thing I do not understand is why we are waiting the extra 5 months to shut down a program. There is nobody who needs this program. That 5 months--just that 5 months of continuing the program--costs the American taxpayers $18 million.
So if, in fact, we are going to shut down the program, I would like to understand the logic of turning it down in January instead of October 1.
First of all, nobody is using this system now. Nobody is using it. Why can't they notify in 3 months all the people--which is zero--who are using this today? The other question is, why does it take $35 million? Where is the backup detail that shows what the costs will be? Maybe it is $18 million.
Mrs. MURRAY. It is $18 million.
Mr. COBURN. So why does it take $18 million? There are only seven stations left, and we are talking about facilities that are smaller than these four desks. Tell me how it takes $2.5 million per buoy to shut them down. Only from Washington would it take that much money. Where is the basis for the knowledge that it takes $18 million?
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, will the Senator yield for a question?
Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I am happy to yield for a question.
Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I am sure the Senator understands from the budget of the U.S. Government for fiscal year 2010 that the Office of Management and Budget submitted to the Congress, it says the administration is proposing to terminate and achieve a savings of $36 million in 2010, and now the Senator from Washington is obviously contradicting what we were told by the administration, which is what we wanted.
How it could cost $18 million, as you say, to shut down seven sites, and not be allowed to sell off valuable assets, of course, is foolishness. Of course the government sells off assets that are extraneous assets all the time without the permission or the need to have legislation.
Is the Senator aware of that?
Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I would tell the Senator from Washington, first of all, I do appreciate that the Senator is attempting to shut this down, and I thank the Senator for that. It has been long overdue. But I do question the amount of money it takes to shut this down. We know the bureaucracies always want more money than what is necessary. You have allowed in this bill that whatever is not used they can plow back into anything they want to use it for.
Why would we not terminate it at the end of the fiscal year? Every month we are running it, it costs $3 to $4 million--$3 to $4 million. I know it does not seem like a lot when we are going to have a $1.8 trillion budget deficit this year, but I do not understand why we would not do it.
I say to the Senator, I appreciate the fact that he is doing it. I think it can be done for a lot cheaper, and I think it could be done sooner, and I would hope the committee would consider that.
With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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