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Public Statements

Amendment No. 521

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. OK. Great. I will withdraw my unanimous consent request.


Mr. President, this is a very straightforward amendment. The people who vote against this rule change, what they are going to be telling you is they do not want you to know what is going on in the Senate, and they do not want us to know what is going on in the Senate. Because all this rule does is make it a force of habit of the Senate that before we look at legislation, we ought to determine whether it duplicates what is already out there in the government, and we ought to determine if it is overlapping to other programs.

Had this amendment been in effect, a third of what we passed in the past would not have passed because we would then have seen--which we are ignorant of today--all the other programs that were available and out there that accomplished the same purpose for which we passed another new program.

In one of my committees last year colleagues offered amendments--well intentioned, with good motives--to accomplish a good purpose. But they lacked knowledge. What they did not know was--and both amendments were ultimately withdrawn when it was explained to them--that, in fact, we already had programs that did exactly the same thing.

So what we have is, we have over $200 billion worth of duplication now within the Federal Government. This is a simple, straightforward amendment that says before we consider things on the floor--it is less than 700 bills over 2 years--that the CRS would, in fact, tell us: Here is what you are doing, here is what the government is already doing in these areas, so we do not end up with duplication, so we do not end up with overlapping, and that we actually get results from what we are doing.

I remind my colleagues that we have, just in the last GAO report, multitudes of duplicative programs, and I will repeat them so people will know. I also would state, this is a bipartisan amendment in the spirit of what the Senator from New York and the Senator from Tennessee have done. This amendment has Senator Udall, Senator McCaskill, Senator Burr, and Senator McCain, as well as Senator Collins, Senator Paul, and Senator Scott Brown. So this is not a partisan move. This is a move about information and knowledge so we make informed decisions.

But for the record, what the GAO told us, less than 5 months ago, is that we have 101 programs across four different agencies for surface transportation. That is 101 sets of bureaucracies. Nobody has ever gone and said: Which ones work and which ones do not? Which ones do exactly the same thing versus what somebody else does?

We have 82 teacher programs for teacher quality across 10 different agencies, 9 of which are not in the Department of Education. We have 88 economic development programs spending $6.5 billion a year across 4 different agencies. We have 47 job training programs across 9 different agencies, and we are spending $18 billion a year, and the GAO said every one of them overlaps, with the exception of 3. Yet we have not had the first move in the Senate this year in spite of all of our problems economically to streamline, eliminate duplication, eliminate overlap, and put metrics on what we are doing.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record this list of duplicative programs identified by GAO.


Mr. COBURN. Again, I will state, if you are against this amendment, you are against eliminating the very cause of our problems in this country, which is duplication, redundancy, overlap, and you are against doing the proper oversight so we make informed decisions.

With that, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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