U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today released the following statement after several of his amendments were removed or drastically changed from final passage of the Department of Interior Appropriations bill. The bill passed by a vote of 72 to 28. Coburn's amendments promoted transparency by releasing reports requested in the bill to all Senators and Americans and promoted security by allowing Homeland Security to patrol federal land on our borders regardless of its federal designation.
"By removing common sense transparency provisions from this bill Congress has once again given taxpayers reason to ask: What are we trying to hide?' Every Senator agreed to my amendments when they knew the American people were watching, but then removed my amendments when they were negotiating behind closed doors," Dr. Coburn said.
"I'm also disappointed conferees gutted an amendment they had previously accepted unanimously that would have required all grants, contracts, and earmarks awarded under this act be competitively bid. Secretly removing a competitive bidding provision plainly shows that members of Congress want to pick and choose winners based on their own parochial or political interests instead of any common sense objective criteria," Dr. Coburn said.
Coburn's amendments that were removed or drastically changed include:
Public disclosure of reports. This amendment was agreed to by unanimous consent in the Senate but a gutted version of the language is included in the conference report. This amendment would have required that reports in the bill be made public to all members and the American people unless there were national security implications.
Protecting the Border. This amendment was agreed to by unanimous consent in the Senate. A changed version of the language is included in the conference report. This amendment would have made certain that none of the funds in the Act may be used to impede, prohibit or restrict activities of the Secretary of Homeland Security to enforce border control laws on federal lands.
Competitive Bidding. A modified version was agreed to by unanimous consent in the Senate. Coburn Senate-passed language is not included. This amendment required that all grants and contracts (and earmarks) awarded under this act be competitively bid.