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Commerce-State-Justice Appropriations

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I will spend a few minutes talking about the Commerce-Justice-State-Science appropriations bill and about my reasons for voting against it when it comes up today.

This year we added $538 billion to our debt as of September 30 for the last year. That translates into $1,783 for every man, woman, and child in this country. The cost of every project or program that we cannot afford will be borne with compounding interest by our children and our grandchildren. The American people choose every day to determine their financial priorities. It should be not too much for them to ask Congress to do the same thing.

There are multiple projects that are funded in this bill that should not be considered within the priorities of what we have. The first is, as we are fighting a war, we have a Katrina, Rita, and Wilma disaster, we have $538 billion that we could not pay for last year that we added to the debt, and we are going to put $680 million into a program at NASA to go to Mars? I believe Mars should wait. I don't believe we should be spending $680 million to go to Mars. I believe we should spend $680 million to help our neighbors and our friends in the hurricane-ravaged States.

We are going to spend $80 million for the Advanced Technology Program.

Granted, that is less than what we spent before, but since 1990 the American taxpayers have given over three-quarters of a billion dollars to Fortune 500 companies for technology programs where they, in fact, could have financed those things themselves.

We are going to spend $1.5 million to study highly migratory sharks, $825,000 to study Hawaiian monk seals, and $235,000 to study yellow-finned tuna. We are going to spend $7 million on the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board, which this year just spent $500,000 to paint an airplane to have a salmon on it.

The priorities are wrong. We need to readjust the priorities. I hope my colleagues will look at that and make the effort.

The other thing I think is critical with this bill and is underfunded----

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator will be informed the majority's time has expired.

Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I am prepared to yield 2 minutes from the minority time to the Senator from Oklahoma.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Illinois.

Byrne-JAG funding is cut in this bill. If there is anything we know that our sheriffs, our police departments, our drug courts, our drug rehabilitation programs need, it is help in terms of fighting the battle on drugs. I am very disappointed. The Senate passed $900 million for Byrne-JAG grants. It was paid for. It was offset when we passed it through the Senate. It came with full offsets to prioritize, to meet the needs of those people who are presently caught up in drugs.

In Oklahoma, we have had fantastic results with drug courts and drug rehabilitation. Eighty-one percent of the people who now come through these drug courts have a full-time job and never regress back to drugs. What we know is drug treatment works. What we know is drug courts work. It is time for us to reconsider our priorities.

I ask the Members of this body to reconsider this conference report in light of the lack of priorities that should be there.

With that, I yield the remainder of my time and thank the Senator from Illinois for his courtesy.

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