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Public Statements

Senate Protects Earmarking in Spite of Debt Crisis

Press Release

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today after the Senate rejected an earmark ban by a vote of 39 to 56. The earmark moratorium, sponsored by Senators Coburn, McCaskill, McCain, and Udall, would have applied to all bills in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013.

"Today's vote shows that many in Congress still do not get it when it comes to understanding the severity of our economic challenges. Pork-barrel spending distracts Congress from doing the hard work of tackling our debt and deficit crisis. Still, the American people should be encouraged that more Senators are willing to listen. Five years ago, the Senate voted to protect the Bridge to Nowhere by a vote of 82 to 15. Today, 39 Senators vote to end earmarking altogether. I'll continue to offer this amendment until Congress ends this egregious practice once and for all," Dr. Coburn said.

"In Congress, earmarking is not our prerogative; it is our pleasure. Our nation flourished for 200 years without an earmark favor factory run by career politicians and lobbyists. For instance, earmarks in the highway bill went from 10 in 1982 to more than 7,000 in 2005. This year, members of Congress have requested more than 37,000 earmarks. Our national survival is at stake because politicians have discovered constitutional powers in all kinds of areas that were never envisioned by our founders. If our founders wanted Congress to indulge in pork-barrel spending they would have included that in the enumerated powers. They clearly did not," Dr. Coburn said.

"Some claim that debating a practice that accounts for a small percentage of the budget distracts Congress from the important work of balancing the budget. That argument might have merit if Congress was doing the hard work of balancing the budget, which it has not been doing for decades. We have a $14 trillion debt and are on brink of becoming Greece or Ireland in part because earmarks are the gateway drug that has facilitated Congress' addiction to spending. As earmarks exploded so did the size of the federal budget, which has doubled in the past decade," Dr. Coburn said.


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