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Public Statements

Department Of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, D.C.

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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, later we are going to vote on an amendment I have that is a prohibition on taking earmarked money from the operation and maintenance account of our armed services. Operation and maintenance--not procurement, not research, but operation and maintenance. The very key thing that funds the ability of our warfighters and our Defense Department to do what they do is being used to pay for some very good projects, some not very good projects, most of which all are parochial; in other words, directed toward State benefit, through the operation and maintenance account.

Last year, I would remind my colleagues, the Navy ran out of operation and maintenance money. We had to supplement it. Why did we supplement it? Because we took their money last year and put it into earmarks instead of giving the Navy what it needed. I would remind the people listening to these words that when we do a supplemental, we charge the money to our kids and our grandkids. We don't have to live within the budget parameters.

So as we vote for this, earmark is another question. The question is: Where do you take the money when you go to earmark? When we take it from the very things that support, equip, and protect the people who are defending this country, and we put them at risk by not having the amount of dollars that are necessary for that, I think we are sending a terrible signal not just to the American people but to our troops that our parochial desires are more important than their well-being.

When the amendment comes up, I will defer saying anything else so we can move on. But the American people need to know. This is a couple hundred million bucks that is going to be taken away from the very necessary things they need. There are a couple of other gimmicks in here that actually lessen that account that allow for other things to be done in terms of not looking into inflation correctly, but we will pass on those amendments. But the fact is we ought not be playing games with the money that goes to protect our troops.

With that, I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.

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Mr. COBURN. This is a simple amendment. I am appreciative of the fact that the National Guard and Army Reserve will get additional funds. All the amendment says is, run that by the Defense Department. They don't get to approve it or disapprove it, but they ought to get to see it. And so should we. Every one of us has National Guard units. Many of us have Army Reserve units. Why should we not have access to information as to how they will spend the money? It is about transparency. The American people ought to see how they will spend the money. I want to see how it will be spent in Oklahoma. All Senators should be able to see how it is spent. The Secretary of Defense will not be able to stop it. It only says he is knowledgeable and responsible, when utilizing those forces overseas, for their deployment and equipment.

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