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Dr. Coburn Votes for Budget Discipline; Against Bloated Appropriations Bills

Location: Washington, DC

Dr. Coburn Votes for Budget Discipline; Against Bloated Appropriations Bills

- U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) commented today on his vote against the Interior Appropriations and the Legislative Branch Appropriations bills saying it was an effort to trim federal spending during a time of massive budget deficits.

"At a time when our nation is on unsustainable fiscal course it is immoral for Congress to continue to spend uncontrollably. We will see a budget deficit this year of more than $500 billion, or an extra $1,650 in debt for every man woman and child. That is in addition to the national debt of nearly $8 trillion, or nearly $26,000 per person," Dr. Coburn said.

"Like most other spending bills, the Interior Appropriations bill is littered with earmarks to gain political favor back home," Dr. Coburn noted. "Congress also has no business increasing legislative appropriations for itself by $228 million when we are running massive deficits, fighting a war and facing the collapse of Social Security and Medicare. Politicians continue to worry about the next election and not the next generation."

Some of the so-called "priority" projects in the Interior Appropriations bills include:

* Nearly $110 million for federal land acquisition, though $92 million for the same purpose allocated last year has not been spent.
* Almost $7 million for the conservation of African and Asian elephants and Great Apes.
* $200,000 for a science project on chicken in Texas.
* Nearly $3 million for research on emerald ash borers and pine beetles.
* $1.2 million to re-locate a fire station in California.

Also retained in the Interior Appropriations bill is language to allow earmarks, or political pet projects, to be hidden in the conference report, a Beltway budget trick to mask true spending habits. Not listing earmarks in the final version of bills makes it nearly impossible for the American public to know how its money is being spent.
Dr. Coburn offered an amendment to require all earmarks be listed in conference reports, but the amendment was defeated by a vote of 59 to 33.

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