Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, it is interesting--and the American people ought to pay attention to this--what we have right now is a bill that is $410 billion. It is $363 million a page. And now we have instructions from the majority leader that no amendments are allowed to be offered. That is what the intent of the quorum call was. That is why the honorable chairman asked me that question. The only way I can talk on the floor is if I agree not to offer an amendment to $410 billion worth of spending, at $363 million per page. What are we coming to? Now we can't offer amendments. I reached out to Senator Reid and said I would work with him on packaging amendments in a way that would not delay this bill, in a way that we can still have a good debate and lots of amendments offered. My goodness, you have 57 votes. You can win almost any vote here. Why do you not want to have amendments? They don't want to have amendments because they really don't want the American people to know what is in this bill. That is why.

This bill represents the spending for all of these agencies we have not sent the money to this fiscal year. But it also represents the worst excesses of Congress. It represents parochialism ahead of principle. It represents putting politicians first and putting the people last. That is what this bill represents. It represents the exact opposite of what our President said he wanted, which was ``change you can believe in.'' Now we have change that is exactly what we saw before President Obama became President. We have the same standard of behavior. Tons of earmarks are in this bill. That is a totally different question. This bill has grown by over $32 billion from the same period last year, of which we just increased most of these agencies on an average of around 80 percent with the stimulus bill. Now we are going to increase it another 8.4 percent, and we are not supposed to offer amendments. We are not supposed to take out things that are obviously quid pro quo in terms of earmarks and campaign contributions, as the Senator from Arizona just mentioned, from the donors we are seeing who are being investigated right now.

The way to get our Government back is to have free and honest debate in the greatest deliberative body in the world, which is supposed to be the U.S. Senate. Now we cannot offer amendments on a bill that is almost half of the entire discretionary spending of the country because we are not sure they want to take a vote on a bill. I have not been bashful about what I want to do.

There is an Emmett Till bill that we passed under controversy here. We got it passed. There is not one penny for funding for the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes in this bill, which your side totally promised would be in this spending. You are abandoning Alvin Sykes and all these families who had unsolved civil rights crimes over the last 30, 40 years in this country and reneging on a promise that said you would put the money in the Justice Department. Yet there is not a penny there. We are high and mighty when it comes to authorizing and when we promise we will do the right thing. But when it comes down to it, we would rather give earmarks for pig smell than fund the solution for unsolved civil rights crimes. I tell you, by doing that, I think we have dishonored a great number of people who worked hard to make sure that bill got passed, the least of which is not Alvin Sykes, a man who has dedicated the last 10 years of his life to seeing that justice was not denied to these families. Here we have a bill which we made promise after promise that we would take care of, and we have done nothing. Of course nobody wants to change this bill. They don't want to change the bill because we are running up to a deadline we have known about since the fiscal year started. No, you cannot change the bill because we will have to extend the CR. There are a lot of benefits to extending the CR: One, we save our grandkids $38 billion--that is one of the benefits--and two, we don't reward behavior that causes us to be less than honorable.

There are 8,570 earmarks in this bill. I am not opposed to earmarks if they are authorized and go through a committee and Senators say they are a priority. But the average American, when they look at all these earmarks, is going to say: How in the world is that a priority? Yet we spend $7.7 billion out of that $30 billion--increased spending--so we can help Senators get reelected and so they will look good at home.

Mr. President, I worry about our Republic. You should be worried too. In the face of the greatest economic difficulty we have seen in over half a century in this country, the status quo has not changed in the Senate. We have not called up the courage to do what is best for this country. What we have done is relied on what is best for the politicians. I worry about what our kids are going to see, what standards of living they are going to have, because it is exactly this behavior that will mortgage their future, and it is not just the dollars, it is the misdirection of funds against a standard that common sense would say is not a priority now. We ought to be doing what is most important for this country first and what is best for the politicians last. This bill has it wrong. It has it backward.

I told the majority leader a moment ago that I would work with him to make sure we didn't obstruct. But maybe we should obstruct this bill, we should stop this bill. Based on the waste in it, the lack of oversight, lack of metrics in the programs, the earmarks in it, and the outright greed for the special class in this country--and that special class is the connected class of the politician. That is who benefits most from this bill. It makes me want to vomit.

You should worry about process in this Chamber because process is the thing that creates transparency. The American people are going to get to see--if we get an opportunity to offer amendments--what is really in this bill.

I will finish my rant by saying that I wonder what the Senators before us, 50 and 100 years ago, would say about what is going on with process in this Chamber right now. You have the votes to defeat anything. Yet you don't want to have an amendment that you have to take a vote on that says this is a priority or this isn't a priority.

To me, I think that lacks honor, I know it lacks courage, and it lacks the dignity this institution deserves.

I yield the floor.


Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top