Cybersecurity Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed--Continued

Floor Speech

By:  Thomas Coburn
Date: July 26, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, first of all, I would like to say I support all three of these measures, in terms of their passing. What I don't support is continuing the habit that has put this country $16 trillion in debt.

To clarify, as a member of the Finance Committee, if one reads my opening statement at that hearing, in that markup, I objected to this bill on the basis of pay-fors. I offered two separate amendments that, on the floor, everybody would agree are germane because the money to pay for the $200 million comes out of trade areas. Yet they were rejected as nongermane by the chairman. So they weren't offered because he said he would reject them. So to create the impression there was no objection to the pay-for in this bill and that everybody agreed is inaccurate, to say the least.

I called Senator Coons of Delaware, who is interested in this, and I called Senator Baucus when this came up, and I told him I have a plan so we can get this all done this week. I was willing to lose a vote on the amendment to have an opportunity to offer the amendment and give my side of the story by splitting these two so the House could pass it. The House has now gone home. Burma sanctions are no longer available to be passed, except if we were to do something extraordinary with the House, which I understand from the Speaker can happen. So Burma sanctions could happen this week.

But I wish to go back to the more important point. Regardless of whether I voted for something in the past, using the type of pay-for that is in this bill is what I call the Wimpy mechanism: Wimpy drives up to Wendy's and orders a hamburger, and when he gets around to the window he says: Don't worry about it, I will be back in 10 days to pay for it. What we have done is use custom user fees over 10 years to collect enough money to pay for $200 million.

With the waste that is in this government, for us to use a 10-year pay-for on something that will be expended over 3 years means we are not capable of addressing the much bigger issues in front of our country. If we can't find $200 million in a $3.6 trillion budget, we are unqualified to be here.

What I would say to my friends and my colleague on the Senate Finance Committee is that somebody has to start saying no. I would remind everyone of a lecture I got from Senator Pete Domenici on a land bill about 2 years ago. He said: We have always done it that way. I said: You know what, you are right, and that is why we are in trouble. So the financing mechanism on this bill denies the situation we are in and charges out over 10 years custom user fees to pay for it.

No other American business, no other company, no other family gets that kind of luxury, especially when they are in debt at 105 percent of their GDP. If we look at where we are, the average American, what we can say is that we are taking in $53,000, we are spending $73,000, and what we actually owe is $380,000. We can't keep doing that. That is how it would relate to the individual family in this country.

The objection was not on the bills. There was no lack of effort on my part to reach out and solve this problem before now and now the minority leader has offered a way to solve the problem on the sanctions for Burma and it is objected to. So not only do we not get to offer amendments in committee, we do not get to offer amendments on the floor. The one thing we need to accomplish today we are not going to accomplish because we don't want to allow amendments.

Because we want to keep doing it the way we have always done it. And the way we have always done it has bankrupted our country and stolen from our children and grandchildren. It is not acceptable anymore.

That is the truth. Everything else is the game that Washington plays. And I will tell my colleagues, I am still willing to work on this. I have a commitment to the Senator from Delaware that next week, if this comes up, I will be the first to offer that amendment and get it out of the way, taking a very short period of time with the Senate. But I want a recorded vote of the Senators in this body that they want to steal the customs user fees for 10 years for just a $200 million pay-for. If that is what you really want to do, then vote that way. But go out and defend it instead of taking something this administration has recommended we cut--which is what I am using to pay for it, something this administration has recommended to pay for it--and vote against what your own President says--here is something we need to eliminate.

I don't get it. The American people don't get it. No wonder we have a 9-percent approval rating.

I yield the floor.

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