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Departments of Labor , Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008 - Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, here we go again, pushing through a bloated appropriations bill chocked full of earmarks and far exceeding the President's budget request. This is the seventh annual appropriations measure that has been considered by the Senate and it is by far the biggest budget buster of those considered. The first six bills exceeded the President's request by over $8 billion, while this bill alone exceeds the President's budget request by almost $9 billion. At what point will Congress come to grips with the fact that we are mortgaging our children's and our grandchildren's futures by approving bills like this?

The Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008 provides over $605 billion, including $149.2 billion in total discretionary spending and, as I mentioned, exceeds the President's budget by $8.95 billion. The Statement of Administration Policy begins with the following;

The Administration strongly opposes S. 1710 because, in combination with the other FY 2008 appropriations bills, it includes an irresponsible and excessive level of spending and includes other objectionable provisions. The statement goes on to say, The Administration has asked that Congress demonstrate a path to live within the President's topline and cover the excess spending in this bill through reductions elsewhere, while ensuring the Department of Defense has the resources necessary to accomplish its mission. Because Congress has failed to demonstrate such a path, if S. 1710 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill.

Well, it looks like he will have the opportunity to do just that.

There are over 1,000 earmarks in this bill. Examples include: $1 million for the Bethel Performing Arts Center in Liberty, NY, for the Woodstock Museum (which the Senate did strike by a vote 52:42); $500,000 for the New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY, for the virtual Herbarium; $200,000 for Dallas, TX, for the Women's Museum; $200,000 for the Italian American Cultural Center of Iowa in Des Moines; $250,000 for the James K. Polk Association in Columbia, TN, for exhibit preparation; $100,000 for the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum; $500,000 for the Southwest Museum of the American Indian in Los Angeles, CA; $100,000 for the Warner Robbins Museum of Aviation in Georgia; $200,000 for the Texas Historical Commission; $600,000 for the Vermont Department of Labor for Job Training of Female Inmates in Vermont; $2.4 million for Maui Community College for the Remote Rural Hawaii Job Training Project; $1.8 million for Maui Community College for training and educational opportunities; $750,000 for Minot State University to provide training and masters degrees to job corp center senior management personnel; $250,000 for the United Auto Workers Region 9 Training Initiative in New York; $900,000 for the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation in Austin, TX, for the Presidential Timeline Project; $1.1 million for the Billings Clinic, Billings, MT--interestingly, the Billings clinic only has 272 beds in its hospital, and received recently an endowment of over $1 million for its cancer center; $5.9 million for Marshall University, WV, including $1,575,000 for the Virtual Colonoscopy Outreach Program; $3,600,000 for Mountain State University, Beckley, WV, for the construction of the Allied Health Technology Tower; $3,150,000 for West Virginia University, for the construction and equipping of medical simulation research and training centers; $4,050,000 for West Virginia University, for the construction of a Multiple Sclerosis Center; $1,000,000 for Wetzel County Hospital, WV, for the expansion and remolding of the Emergency Department; $2,000,000 for the Iowa Department of Public Health to continue the Harkin Wellness Grant program; and $100,000 for Iowa Games, Ames, IA, to continue the Lighten Up Iowa program.

I could go on and on calling out earmarks in this bill and its accompanying report. We are doing a disservice to the American taxpayers and ourselves by approving such wasteful spending. It doesn't have to be this way. In fact, for the past 2 fiscal years, the programs funded through the Labor-HHS bill were virtually pork-free. A fortunate disagreement resulted in almost no earmarks in the fiscal year 2006 bill, which had about 3,000 earmarks the prior year. And last year, we funded the programs with a continuing resolution that, for the taxpayers, turned out to have been about the most fiscally responsible route that we could have taken.

I urge my colleagues to reject the excessive spending in the bill.

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