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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COBURN. Madam President, first of all, I thank the chairman of the full committee and the chairman and the ranking member of the subcommittee. I first want to give them some praise. Although I don't agree with the total numbers in this bill, I do recognize the significant changes they have made to the bill with ideas we had 2 years ago, and I am very appreciative of the fact that the slumlord problem is being taken care of, the count on vehicles for the Federal Government is being taken care of, and the conferences are being taken care of. Almost all of my concerns have been addressed very faithfully in looking at those issues we raised and actually including them in the underlying language, and I am very appreciative of that.

In terms of getting amendments up, my desire is just to get them up and pending and to be flexible with the chairman and the ranking member on which ones they will accept, which ones they do not want to take a vote on, and then talk about that and not to ramrod the process. It is only a matter of efficiency for me. If their pleasure is for me to do one or two or three and then come back later and do it again, as long as we have an open amendment process, I don't have any problem with it.

I do think we have some ideas to improve this bill, and I think the amendments ought to be considered. So I thank them for their consideration and allowing me to make some amendments pending, and I will talk with both the chairman and the ranking member about when and what we will do with the disposition of those amendments.


Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I would like to spend a moment talking about amendment No. 1750.

This bill has a prohibition in it that I think is long overdue and very good. What it does is it prohibits the transfer of funds for Federal assistance in the bill to corporations with delinquent taxes. I believe that is a great step in the right direction.

Companies that are contracting with, doing business with the Federal Government have an obligation to pay their taxes, but I also believe our Federal employees ought to be paying their taxes as well. We have $5 billion due to the Federal Treasury from Federal employees where the cases have been adjudicated. They are not under question any longer. There is no question about whether the money is owed. They have run through all their appeals. All this amendment would do is to strike the same balance for both independent contractors, which is not a part of the Senate bill as presently on floor, and individual Federal employees who have a tax obligation.

When the average Federal compensation fully absorbed is calculated, it is in excess of $134,000 a year. That includes all the benefits and everything else. That is twice the per capita median family income in America. So the fact that we have this large of an outstanding amount--it is about $1 billion--with current active Federal employees, I believe there ought to be some consequence for Federal employees who have a tax obligation but aren't paying it and whom we continue to keep in our employ and continue to pay them with no payment back to the Federal Treasury.

In one division of the Federal Government--the Internal Revenue Service--if, in fact, an individual is found in a situation such as this, they lose their job. It is grounds for termination. So this is a simple improvement that would say what is good for American taxpayers is also good for Federal employees and what is good for businesses that do business with the Federal Government is good for Federal employees. And what is good for the businesses ought to also be good for independent contractors who owe the Federal Government money.

So I would be happy to have any modifications the committee might recommend to this as well, but in terms of fairness and running a $17 trillion debt and running $600 billion in deficits, we ought to be aggressive about collecting the taxes owed to us that there aren't any questions about. The principle the committee used in terms of businesses that deal with the Federal Government ought to be applied to individual contractors and individuals as well.

With that, I thank the chairman and the ranking member of the subcommittee, as well as the chairman, for the opportunity to offer this amendment and will await their disposition and their plan.

I yield the floor.


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