U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today after the Senate rejected Coburn amendment 1738 by a vote of 52 to 46. The Coburn amendment, which needed 60 votes to pass, would have eliminated $10 billion in duplicative and unnecessary spending that has been identified in two reports by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Last year, Dr. Coburn offered a similar amendment after GAO released its first report on duplication in March 2011. At that time, the Senate agreed to a similar amendment by a vote of 64 to 36. Today, several senators switched their votes and defeated the Coburn amendment.
"Today's vote shows that the problem in Washington is not gridlock or partisanship, but incompetence. Senators have agreed to borrow and spend far beyond our means yet refuse to eliminate wasteful spending, even when another agency has done the hard work of oversight for them. This was an easy vote, not a hard vote. Our reluctance to take easy steps toward savings speaks volumes about why we have a $15 trillion national debt and historic-low approval ratings," Dr. Coburn said.
The GAO has identified the following areas of duplication, which could produce savings well beyond $100 billion annually. Findings include:
* 209 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education programs run by 13 agencies
* 200 overlapping DOJ grants for crime prevention programs
* 160 housing assistance programs run by 20 entities
* 94 initiatives to encourage "green building" in the private sector run by 11 agencies
* 82 teach training programs run by seven agencies
* 56 financial literacy programs run by 20 agencies
* 47 job training programs run by nine agencies
* 14 programs to reduce diesel emissions