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Dr. Coburn Criticizes Senate's Empty Commitment to End Earmarks to Family Members

Location: Washington, DC

Dr. Coburn Criticizes Senate's Empty Commitment to End Earmarks to Family Members

Senate accepts prohibition on earmark profiteering under the condition that the provision will be stripped out of any conference report on the measure

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) tonight criticized the Senate for refusing to debate or allow a recorded vote on an amendment to prohibit Senators from requesting or promoting earmarks that would financially benefit themselves, their families, their staff members or their staff members' families. While the Senate technically adopted by voice vote the amendment (no. 51) to S.1, the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007, the majority party refused to allow debate on the amendment prior to passage of the bill, refused to allow a recorded vote on the amendment, and refused to keep the provision in any final conference report on the bill. Coburn voted no on S.1.

"The problem in Washington is not lobbyists; the problem is us. Unfortunately, many of the provisions in this bill are focused on the wrong problem," Dr. Coburn said.

"The process by which this bill was considered also should concern the American people. By refusing to allow debate on key amendments, such as my amendment to prohibit earmarks to family members, Congress showed that its commitment to transparency is less than it appears to be," Dr. Coburn said.

A recent USA TODAY investigation on the ties between lobbyists and the lawmakers who make spending decisions in Congress found, in 2005 alone, $750 million in special projects pushed by lobbyists with relatives on committees that wrote the bills.

"The American people won't be hoodwinked by politicians who condemn the culture of corruption while enriching themselves and their family members with earmarks," Dr. Coburn said. "My amendment was accepted with the intention of removing it in the anonymity of a closed-door conference committee."

"Any conference report on this bill that includes a ban on $20 meals but doesn't include a ban on $100 million earmarks that financially benefit politicians, their families or their staff members will be an insult to the intelligence of every single taxpayer. Any reform bill that allows the ‘earmark favor factory' to continue to dole out goodies for the financial benefit of politicians and their staff members is a reform bill in name only," Dr. Coburn said.

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