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Public Statements

Making Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I heard the majority leader's speech. I wanted to put him on notice that I will object to the bringing forward of this bill. It was introduced September 19 and reported out of the Banking Committee on November 13, 2 days ago. We received notice, via hotline, that they were attempting to clear the bill by unanimous consent yesterday afternoon.

This bill addresses a very delicate and complicated area of housing policy on which we cannot afford to make mistakes. I know many Senators, including myself, are strong advocates of how we can help those who find themselves in trouble now. I know the authors of the bill would like to pass it expeditiously. However, it is a big bill. It is an important bill. Under the unanimous consent request, that would mean we would not debate it and offer amendments. For those two reasons, I object, as a Senator from Oklahoma, and I know several other Senators would as well.

The problem with hotlining bills is they don't get due deliberation. Here is a stack of bills that were offered by unanimous consent in the Senate before the August break. Most of the Senators had never read the bills, didn't know what was in the bills. Thankfully, many of them were objected to by Members of the Senate. It is not a good way to legislate.

This is an important issue. We seem to have a tendency that we are afraid to do the real work we need to do because we will be criticized as the one stopping the bill. I am not afraid to stop a bill. I believe we need to get things right. It is not about not wanting to help those in need today, but there are several significant things in this bill.

First of all, the bill changes it so that if you have a $417,000 home, you can get a mortgage; if you are in trouble, we are going to take care of that. That is twice the median price of a home in this country. It lowers the downpayment to 1.5 percent. It exposes American taxpayers to $1.6 billion over the next 5 years. We can solve this problem. We cannot solve this problem by blowing a bill through here without good debate, rigorous discussion of the issues, and alternative options, via amendments, which will address, No. 1, how we got where we are in terms of the subprime mortgage mess; No. 2, how we restore confidence in that market; No. 3, how do we work to secure better oversight on the mortgage industry that put people in the position of owning property they could not afford; and the predatory lending practices Senator Reid talked about. We can address those. Doing it under a hotline, under unanimous consent, where we don't have an option to study the bill and think about what other options there can be or how many hearings were held on the bill and what is the response, is not the way to legislate.

I believe the President has not said he would not support this bill. I may be wrong, but I seem to recall that from the past.


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