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Department of Defense Authorization Conference Report

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I want to respond. First, I think it is unfortunate when somebody is in the chair that such a statement was made without thankfully someone else being in the Chamber to allow me the opportunity to respond to it.

There is a lot wrong with the process in the Senate and I am sure the distinguished Senator from Nevada probably has an intellectual heads-up on me. I do not doubt that. But what is wrong is deception, not policy changes, and you have never heard this Senator say anything about problems with putting policy riders on appropriations bills.

What I have been very clear about from the day I arrived in the Senate is that there should not be earmarks that are used in politically beneficial ways for individual Members of the body because what that does, in fact, is put the country second and us first. It puts the next election ahead of the next generation.

To equate that with policy changes that go along and use my position as somebody who is fighting hard to change the appropriations process and to use me as an example, because you may not at this time be happy--I am not happy we are here, I am not happy that anything gets stuck on anything, but I also recognize the history of things that have gone on in this body and the other body and how at the end of a session things get tacked on to lots of things.

I will not be used, nor will I allow my position to be used, to wedge other people into thinking I am inconsistent, and I will defend that.

My consistent criticism of the appropriation process is on earmarks and on earmarks alone and us living within the amount of moneys we have and not using the earmark process to advantage your own political career.

I want to make sure everybody in this country understands that what you are talking about is something wholly different than that. This is policy. I am not happy about any additional spending that is not paid for, I don't care what bill it comes through, and I have made it very clear to my leadership, on any bill that comes out of this end-of-the-year process.


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I would tell the Senator from Nevada I take no personal offense but would also state there hasn't been an appropriations bill coming out of this body in 20 years that hasn't had policy changes directed and attached to it. They all do. If you seriously look at them, there are policy directions on every one of them because the Congress spends all its time appropriating rather than authorizing--the very issue the Senator from Michigan is talking about. Consequently, this year we are going to appropriate $190 billion on items that are not even authorized.

The Senator from Nevada is gracious. I wanted to make sure my point was clear on my position in terms of earmarks and spending. I don't like this process any better than he does, but I am willing to do what we need to do for our country to get it done. I don't want us to corrupt the process, but I will tell you that the process needs to completely be revised in terms of appropriations. We should never be in this position that we find ourselves today.

With that, I yield the floor.

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