Dr. Coburn Says Secret Spending and Deliberations, Not Secret Holds, are the Problem Calls Hotline Process McCarthyite; Files 2nd Degree Amendment to Stop Secret Spending
U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today regarding an amendment he has filed to S. 3217, the Financial Regulation bill, to stop secret spending.
"It's absurd that while Greece -- the cradle of civilization and democracy -- is burning, the U.S. Senate is complaining about secret holds. We are moving toward a similar crisis not because of secret holds, but because of out-of-control spending, much of which is done in secret," Dr. Coburn said.
According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, 94 percent of all measures passed by the Senate do not receive a roll call vote.
"The hotline process is a McCarthyite tool of intimidation and extortion that is designed to suppress and silence opposition. If a Senator fails to immediately submit to a unanimous consent request to pass a bill essentially in secret with no debate and no recorded vote they risk being demonized. Even reading a bill can subject a Senator to a barrage of attacks from special interest groups. For instance, if a Senator wants to review a breast cancer bill, they're against women. If they want to review a civil rights bill, they're racist, and so on. The hotline process has become an outrageous abuse of power and a perversion of the legislative process that punishes Senators for doing the work of legislating they were elected to do," Dr. Coburn said.
"My amendment simply says that if politicians in Washington want to spend beyond our means they should have the courage to explain their intentions to the American people, not hide behind secret procedures. I've never objected to explaining my holds but disclosing so-called secret holds is not the fundamental problem. The problem that impacts our country is secret spending, secret deliberations and the McCarthyite hotline process. My amendment is about exposing and ending secretive practices that have helped put our economy in grave danger," Dr. Coburn said.
The Coburn amendment makes two key reforms:
1) Hotline notifications must be made public for at least three days, not a few minutes or hours under current practice.
2) Senators must certify in writing that they have read the legislation and understand its impact. This would reverse the current undemocratic practice of deeming legislation as passed unless a Senator objects.