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Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I wish to spend a few minutes talking about the legislative branch and us and where we find ourselves. I do have an amendment and I appreciate the consideration of it.

Right now, the average income in this country is down four-tenths of 1 percent this year. Historically, people wonder why Congress cannot control spending. They cannot control spending because they cannot even control their own budget. We are going to see about a 3.2-percent increase in the bill. The House is coming in at 6.1. In conference, we will decide what the legislative branch increase in expenses is on the American public. The reason that spending is out of control and the reason we are shackling our grandchildren with an enormous amount of debt--another $5 trillion in the next 5 years--is because we don't even do a good job managing our own office budgets.

I am on the floor a lot complaining about wasteful spending, earmarks, and other issues. I don't do that without setting the proper example in my own office. I have been here 4 complete years. I am in my fifth year. During that time, I have turned back, in 2005, $321,000; in 2006, $529,000; in 2007, $516,000; and in 2008, $491,000--about 16 to 17 percent of my budget.

If I can do that, the question the American people ought to ask is: Why can't everybody up here do that? Why can't we manage our own legislative branch expenses? With the economic environment in which we find ourselves today, the American people ought to be asking what are our elected leaders doing to cut their expenses because we are borrowing a good portion of this money. Why are we not setting an example? If we don't do it, then we are certainly not going to have the various Federal agencies do it.

If you look at spending increases, outside the omnibus and the Recovery Act, Congress increased spending almost 7.2 percent last year. The budget has in it 7.3 percent. That is three times the rate of income growth prior to this recession. Yet we are growing the government three, four times faster, and we are growing our own budgets two and a half or three times faster. This time, it will be five or six times faster than Americans' income is growing.

The question has to be asked: If we are not good stewards with our own offices, how can we be good stewards with the money entrusted to us?

Mr. President, I call up amendment No. 1369 and ask for its immediate consideration.


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, this is a very simple amendment. It says we will take the money we spend and make available online to the American people how we spent it. Right now, there are a limited number of books published. We transfer it from computers to a book, but we don't give it to the American people so they can see how we are spending money on our office accounts. Senators Nelson of Nebraska and Reid have graciously said they support this amendment. We will have limited debate.

The one way to get this spending under control in our individual offices, as well as in the Federal Government, is to make available to the American people how we spend it. So my hope is this will be a short period of time, and at the end of this year, the American people can go on a Web site and see how Tom Coburn spent his money, in terms of running the office of the junior Senator from Oklahoma. I think they will find I am as frugal with their money in my office as I am trying to be frugal on the floor when it comes to wasteful spending. There is $350 billion worth of waste that will go through this year, without one stroke of it being eliminated--$350 billion worth of waste and not one legitimate stroke will be eliminated as we go through the Appropriations Committees and the President's budget--and he is trying to eliminate some. But we won't even do a line-by-line review.

I hope we will accept this amendment and lead by example, and the American people can hold us accountable for how we spend their money.

With that, I yield the floor.


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