Archive for the ‘Sen. Tom Coburn’ Category

CBS News Video: Coburn On USDA Conferences

May 27, 2008

Sen. Coburn is interviewed by CBS News on the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s wasteful spending. He is particularly critical of the conferences USDA officials have been attending lately. He lists for example, officials attending Crayfish conferences in Australia, and trips to Hawaii to study the U.S. Congress.

The Coconut Road Affair – How To Investigate A Crooked Earmark

April 17, 2008

“Somewhere along the way, something changed. Nobody knows for sure who did what.”- Sen. Tom Coburn

From ABC News:

Someone – before Congress mandated that earmarks enacted into law be made public, so we’re not sure who – someone changed language in the conference report to the 2006 transportation bill that redirected $10 million that had been designated to widen parts of I-75 to instead create the off-ramp.

Problem is the residents of Lee County in Naples, Florida didn’t want the off-ramp. The local government didn’t want the off-ramp and the local Congressman, Republican Connie Mack, says he didn’t request the off-ramp.

It was requested by a local business man – conveniently a political patron of Rep. Don Young, the powerful Alaska Republican that tried so hard to bring you the “Bridge to Nowhere” boondoggle that same year, and the lawmaker who wrote the bill.

Young has not directly admitted requesting the earmark, and despite Mack maintaining he didn’t request it either, offering he even worked to have the earmark reversed, there exists a letter from 2006 indicating Mack supported an off-ramp in that location.

Lawmakers put 6,300 earmarks worth $24 billion into what was ultimately signed by President George W. Bush. But only Coconut Road is still causing problems on Capitol Hill.

Republican anti-earmark crusader Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla, wants to appoint a bipartisan, bicameral panel with subpoena power to investigate the matter and he’s holding up action on the Senate floor demanding a vote on the proposal.

Senators have spent all week considering a “technical corrections” to the 2005 transportation bill. “Technical corrections” are supposed to dot i’s and cross t’s overlooked when the bill was originally passed, but Coburn says there should be a full accounting of the taxpayer money that was overlooked too.

Read more..

Senate Rejects Coburn/McCain Amendments to Restrain Spending; Protect Private Property Rights

April 11, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today expressed disappointment that the Senate rejected four amendments to a public lands bill, S. 2739 the “Consolidated Natural Resources Act,” that would have protected private property rights and forced Congress to pay for new spending in the bill with spending cuts elsewhere. U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) co-sponsored each amendment:

Across America, families are tightening their belts. Yet, despite a sluggish economy, Congress continues to believe it’s entitled to spend as much as it desires without making choices about spending. The Senate’s refusal to pay for any the new costs of this without any belt-tightening of its own is one reason why Congress’ approval ratings are at an all-time low.

“Our nation was built on a tradition of service and sacrifice in which one generation sacrifices for the next. Yet, Congress has become a parochial body that puts the short-term desires of politicians and special interests ahead of the national interest. For instance, the National Park Service (NPS) faces a $9 billion maintenance backlog yet Congress just voted to spend $380 million on new projects that will help politicians look good in the next election. I appreciate my colleagues who recognize that we are on unsustainable fiscal course and are willing to challenge the status quo in Washington.

With our nation nearly $10 trillion in debt and our troops serving in harm’s way overseas, Congress today voted to borrow more money to pay for these new priorities in S. 2739:

  • “Such sums as are necessary” (CBO estimates $250,000) for the federal government to initiate a three year study of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Labor Movement, to determine if relevant sites should be recognized and preserved.
  • $9 million over five years for the Northern Mariana Islands to send a delegate to Congress. The delegate will have a full House staff, and the expected cost just next year is $1 million. The island has 60,000 residents. The average House district is around 650,000 people.
  • $2 million to create a commission to celebrate “the 200th anniversary of the voyage of Robert Fulton in the Clermont, and the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Henry Hudson in the Half Moon.”
  • $2 million to create a commission to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Samuel de Champlain
  • “Such sums as are necessary” (a blank check) for the establishment of the Piedras Blancas Historic Light Station Outstanding Natural Area (near the world famous Hearst Castle in California).
  • A $12 million earmark to help the Eastern Municipal Water District in California in the design, planning, and construction of permanent facilities needed to establish operational pressure zones that will be used to provide recycled water in the district.”

The Senate considered the following Coburn/McCain amendments. Complete background on the amendments is here.

Amendment 4522 requiring an annual report detailing the amount of property the federal government owns and the cost of government land ownership to taxpayers was defeated by a vote of 30 to 63.

Amendment 4521 requiring citizens’ approval and periodic renewal by referendum of any taking of property by the Departments of Interior, Energy or Agriculture was defeated by a vote of 19 to 76.

Amendment 4520 requiring that citizens within a National Heritage Area are informed of the designation, and that government officials must receive permission to enter private property, was defeated by a margin of 27 to 67.

Amendment 4519 that would have set aside one percent of any spending appropriated to carry out the new authorizations within the bill to be used to pay for the disposal of excess, unused and unneeded Federal property to offset some of the costs of the bill was defeated by a vote of 22 to 73.

Coburn to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee: Do your Jobs! (Updated)

April 11, 2008

Updated 4/11/08, from Curt Levy of the Committee for Justice: Seven GOP senators took to the Senate floor this morning to denounce the obstruction of judicial nominees by their Democratic colleagues and to put the Democrats on notice of the price they will pay if the obstruction continues. After “Republicans slammed Leahy at a committee meeting last week,” today’s “threat marked the next phase in the growing election-year battle over the judiciary, an issue that Republicans hope will energize conservatives eager to see more of Bush’s nominees confirmed to the bench,” reported The Hill…Here are excerpts of the GOP senators’ remarks:

Sen. Arlen Specter:

There is a growing movement in the Republican caucus to hold up legislation if we cannot move in any other way to get justice on the confirmation of these judges.

Sen. Sam Brownback:

I think you’re going to see people start to jam the body down and say that, unless we start approving some circuit court judges, business isn’t going to happen around here.

It may come to a complete standstill if we don’t start getting some judges. … The majority party can choose to go that route. … We are really going to have a big debate then across the country on that. Meanwhile, the whole nation just wants us to get the work done and we’re not getting it done because judges aren’t being approved.

Sen. John Cornyn:

This immediate need for judicial confirmations is especially true for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. … The Fourth Circuit is currently operating without a third of its judges. The Washington Post observed that ‘the Senate should act in good faith to fill vacancies – not as a favor to the president but out of respect for the residents, businesses, defendants and victims of crime in the region the 4th Circuit covers.’

Sen. Orrin Hatch:

The majority has stalled judicial confirmation votes longer this year than in any presidential election year since 1848. … The last time the Senate waited this long in a presidential election year to confirm federal judges, James Polk, the 11th President, was in the White House.

Since I was first elected, there have been seven Congresses like this one that included a presidential election year. During each of these presidential election Congresses, the Judiciary Committee held hearings for an average of 25 appeals court nominees. But today, more than fifteen months into the 110th Congress, the Judiciary Committee has held a hearing for only five appeals court nominees.

The current Judiciary Committee chairman in the past often insisted that 1992 provides the standard for judicial confirmation progress. Like today, his party controlled the Senate and a President Bush was in the White House. By this time that year, by April 10, 1992, the Senate had already confirmed 25 nominees to the federal bench. It does not look like the Senate will confirm 25 judicial nominees for the entire rest of the year.

Sen. Mitch McConnell:

The Judiciary Committee has held only one hearing on one circuit court nominee since last September. … It’s not as if the Committee has been otherwise occupied. This is another week in which the Committee could have held a hearing, for example, on the qualified nominees to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, but it again chose not to do so. These nominees meet the Chairman’s own criteria for prompt consideration. Nevertheless, they have been inexplicably languishing in the Committee for hundreds of days without a hearing while the Fourth Circuit is one-third vacant.

We were told that having the support of home-state senators ‘means a great deal and points toward the kind of qualified consensus nominee that can be quickly confirmed.’ But it’s beginning to look like this criterion is being selectively applied: it’s readily used as a reason not to move a nominee – coincidentally, when the nominee is from a state with a Democratic Senator – but it’s ignored when the nominee has the support of two Republican Senators.

Sen. Tom Coburn (including his written statement and remarks on the floor):

The Chairman’s unwillingness to even hold hearings on numerous judicial nominees is a gross dereliction of duty. It is disappointing that the committee is putting election year partisan politics ahead of its constitutional duty to give ‘advice and consent’ to the president’s judicial nominees.

If Senators can find time to attend fundraisers, process thousands of earmark requests and be guests on talk shows they can find time to do the job they were elected to do, and are required to do under our Constitution.

I’m reminded of the fact that the majority had problems with four of President Bush’s nominees starting in January [2007]…In a gesture of good will, he withdrew four nominees that … although they were well-qualified, they weren’t acceptable [to Democrats] … It’s time for the Senate to make good on promises. It’s time for it to reciprocate on what President Bush did in terms of withdrawing the four nominees.

Chairman Leahy’s treatment of Fourth Circuit nominee Robert Conrad, who has been pending for more than 250 days, is a case study in mindless partisanship and baseless obstruction. Last week, when I asked Chairman Leahy why this nominee has been delayed he accused Judge Conrad of making ‘anti-Catholic’ statements. Chairman Leahy’s stunning accusation against a nominee who happens to be Catholic underscores the urgency of giving Judge Conrad the courtesy of a prompt hearing and fair vote. … If Senator Leahy has concerns about Judge Conrad’s qualifications he should present those in the context of a confirmation hearing, where the nominee will have an opportunity to respond.

Senator Jon Kyl:

The judicial conference says that many of these [vacancies] are judicial emergencies, meaning that we have vacancies in the circuit that need to be filled because there aren’t enough judges to do the people’s business. I mean, we should do it because we should do it; it’s our responsibility. But even if you only look at it from a political standpoint, the reality is that if this tradition is broken of 15, 16, 17 judges in the last two years of an administration, then, clearly, we’re going to devolve into a situation where, for political purposes, the party in power decides not to … even having votes on the nominees of the President. And that is a very, very bad thing.

Peter Keisler, who has been pending the longest. He’s been pending for almost two years. In fact he was nominated to the District of Columbia circuit court in June of 2006 and received a hearing in August of that year. He is widely regarded as well-qualified, fair-minded, and has received support from all over the political spectrum. … The American Bar Association has rated him unanimously well-qualified. You cannot get a higher rating than that. The Washington Post – no particular friend of this administration – editorialized in favor of Keisler describing him as a highly qualified nominee who certainly warrants confirmation.


Original Article, 4/10/08: U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today regarding the Senate Judiciary Committee’s abysmal record of providing “advice and consent” on judicial nominees in the 110th Congress:

The Chairman’s unwillingness to even hold hearings on numerous judicial nominees is a gross dereliction of duty. It is disappointing that the committee is putting election year partisan politics ahead of its constitutional duty to give ‘advice and consent’ to the president’s judicial nominees. These delays are a transparent and political attempt to run out the clock on President Bush’s term.

Chairman Leahy’s treatment of Fourth Circuit nominee Robert Conrad, who has been pending for more than 250 days, is a case study in mindless partisanship and baseless obstruction. Last week, when I asked Chairman Leahy why this nominee has been delayed he accused Judge Conrad of making ‘anti-Catholic’ statements. Chairman Leahy’s stunning accusation against a nominee who happens to be Catholic underscores the urgency of giving Judge Conrad the courtesy of a prompt hearing and fair vote.

Moreover, Judge Conrad has the support of both of his home state senators. He has been rated unanimously well-qualified by the American Bar Association, and he was previously confirmed as a district judge after voice vote approval by both the Judiciary Committee and the full Senate. Also, the Fourth Circuit seat to which he has been nominated has been deemed a judicial emergency. If Senator Leahy has concerns about Judge Conrad’s qualifications he should present those in the context of a confirmation hearing, where the nominee will have an opportunity to respond.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has no excuse for its delays. The Senate has ample time to consider these nominations. We are in session only three and a half days a week. We spend much of our time in procedural quorum calls rather than debating legislation. In short, if Senators can find time to attend fundraisers, process thousands of earmark requests and be guests on talk shows they can find time to do the job they were elected to do, and are required to do under our Constitution.

Some facts on judicial confirmations:

  • A Republican Senate confirmed 15 circuit court judges and 57 district court judges in President Clinton’s final two years.
  • Thus far in this Congress, the Senate has confirmed only 6 of President Bush’s circuit court nominees and 34 district court nominees.
  • The Committee has held only one hearing for one circuit court nominee since September 25, 2007, over six months ago. And, the Committee has only held two hearings that included a total of 6 district court nominees since November 1, 2007, over five months ago.
  • Further, the Committee held hearings for only four circuit court nominees in all of last year.
  • Last week, Judiciary Committee Republicans made the case for judicial nominees during the weekly Executive Business Meeting. Yet, this week’s schedule contains no full-Committee hearings, nor does it contain an Executive Business Meeting.

Dr. Coburn Applauds CAGW for Release of 2008 Pig Book

April 3, 2008

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today regarding the release of the 2008 Pig Book published by Citizens Against Government Waste:

In these difficult economic times, American taxpayers expect politicians in Washington to tighten their belts along with the rest of the country. Nothing represents the excess in government more than earmarks, especially for projects like hops (beer making) research, theaters and sheep institutes.

Unfortunately, this year’s Pig Book shows that too many politicians in Washington want to be not only members of the House and Senate but also de facto mayors and county commissioners as they divvy up money for pet parochial projects. Contrary to what many politicians claim, Congress operated for 200 years prior to the creation of the modern earmark favor factory and will do just fine once it’s gone.

Thankfully, groups like CAGW have helped turn a cause that many critics once described as a quixotic crusade into a movement that has significant backing in both chambers and in both parties. When Democrats like U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and U.S. Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) forsake earmarks activists should know that their voices are being heard. Most Americans understand that earmarks are the gateway drug to spending addiction in Congress. Sooner or later, a majority in Congress will be forced to come to that conclusion as well.

Examples of pork in the 2008 Pig Book include:

  • $7.9 million for 36 theaters
  • $1,950,000 for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service;
  • $460,752 for Hops (for beer making) Research;
  • $263,200 for the American Sailing Training Association in Newport, Rhode Island;
  • $211,509 in olive fruit fly research in Paris, France;
  • $188,000 for the Lobster Institute in Maine;
  • $148,950 for the Montana Sheep Institute; and
  • $98,000 to develop a walking tour of Boydton, Virginia.

Coburn: U.S. Indian Healthcare Bill "Morally Bankrupt"

February 29, 2008

The Albuquerque Journal is reporting that a bill designed to “boost programs at the federally funded Indian Health Service, prompt new construction and modernization of health clinics on reservations, and attempt to recruit more Indians into health professions…increase tribal access to Medicare and Medicaid….[and] authorize spending about $35 billion for Indian health care programs over the next 10 years” passed the Senate Tuesday, 83-10.

PhotobucketIt also, according to the Journal, “Contains a resolution sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) that would formally apologize to American Indians for centuries of government mistreatment. The resolution acknowledges a long history of government misconduct against Indians, including forced relocation from tribal lands, theft of tribal assets and the breaking of treaties and covenants.”

Indian Country writes:

The bill, at least eight years in the making and often a subject of exceptional controversy over issues that ranged from the narrowly medical and technical field to broad constitutional questions, provides up to $16 billion for Indian health care through the next five fiscal years. Just as importantly to its backers among tribes, the bill updates the responsiveness of tribes and the IHS in numerous priority areas, including cancer screening, diabetes treatment, disease prevention, youth suicide and mental health intervention, traditional approaches to healing and in-home health care, recruitment to the health profession as practiced in Indian country, and Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.

Pro-Life Groups are celebrating the amendment to the bill which will prevent tribal women from receiving abortions at taxpayer expense. CitizenLink quotes Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council:

I applaud the Senate for voting to prevent Indian Health Service funds from being used to pay for abortions. The majority of the Senate has now shown they agree with most Americans that government funding of abortion is morally wrong.

Nonetheless, Tom Coburn (R-OK) argued that the legislation does not address any real issues, and that the money may not even be there to pay for benefits promised. He called the legislation “morally bankrupt” and added it was like:

…Taking out a new loan on a car when you can’t afford food for your family…Why are we putting off fixing the system? So we could tell everyone that we did something when in fact we did nothing.

To become law, Jerry Reynolds reports,

The bill, S. 1200 in the Senate, awaits action in the House of Representatives. An identical version of it has passed the House Resources Committee and is now before the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Coburn said what?!

February 25, 2008

Pop Quiz: Who said,

We will fight this war again, if we don’t fight it now…

That was U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, a couple of weeks ago, after returning from Iraq.

Now, who said this?

I will tell you personally that I think it was probably a mistake going to Iraq…

Same Senator, a week later, at a Muskogee Townhall meeting.

The blogosphere on the left and right has gone wild.

Coburn was awarded. Just recently, he has made it clear that he does NOT want to be McCain’s Vice President. Many conservative bloggers think that won’t be a problem, now.

Recently, Coburn was awarded the conservative Courage Under Fire award, immediately before strongly endorsing McCain at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C..

Coburn Doth Protest too Much…?

February 18, 2008

KTUL Channel 8 in Tulsa is reporting that Tom Coburn has no interest in running as McCain’s Vice President:

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn told an audience he has no interest in running for vice president. Coburn held a townhall meeting in Muskogee Saturday to discuss ongoing issues, such as Social Security reform, but he also took the chance to put some rumors to rest. (video below)

[…]

“When I ran for this job I told Oklahomans I’m going to challenge the culture. We have to finish that job. That is more important to me than any other position that I could be in,” said Coburn.

The Tulsa World quotes him as saying, that “Coburn, however, said he is too controversial to be a good running mate and doesn’t think it would be the best use of his time.”

He may be right. According to a poll conducted by Right-Wing News, answered by 1300 readers, Coburn ranked 16th out of 20 on that short-list of McCain’s popular rumored options. The top three were Fred Thompson, J.C. Watts, and Duncan Hunter.

Coburn, from Iraq: We will fight this war again if we don’t fight it now.

February 11, 2008

KSWO in Lawton is reporting on Coburns weekend visit to Iraq:

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn says the 3,000 National Guard troops from Oklahoma are fighting in the safest environment in Iraq in five years.

Coburn visited with the troops this weekend and was scheduled to stop
in Afghanistan today before returning to the U.S.

[…]

Coburn says reserve units should be deployed overseas, and not Guard
units.

Ben Fenwick, of the Tulsa World spoke with Coburn:

A chance visit to Iraq on Saturday and Sunday by Coburn, R-Okla., coincided with the beginning of de ployment by Oklahoma’s 45th Infantry Brigade, the Thunderbirds, which will spend a year serving throughout Iraq.

Coburn had breakfast with Thunderbird commander Brig. Gen. Myles Deering and other members of the brigade’s headquarters unit, and visited an area of recent fighting with soldiers in Oklahoma’s active-duty military.

[…]

A longtime critic of the White House’s deficits and spending policies, Coburn said the real cost of the war has only just begun. He said the administration misstepped from the beginning by choos ing to pay for the war in Iraq through deficit spending.

“We’ve run this war by borrowing money that our grandkids are going to have to pay back,” Coburn said. “There is a consequence to that, and it’s not just financial. The only people who you’ve asked to sacrifice in this war are the military and their families. No other American has sacrificed.”

Coburn insisted, however, that the war is being won and that pulling out would be disastrous. He said candidates who demand a troop pullout will bring ruin to the gains made in Iraq.

Fenwick also quotes Coburn as saying:

The risk is unbelievable for us as a nation for our own security…We will fight this war again if we don’t fight it now. I am absolutely convinced. The other thing I’m convinced of is we are going to win — much more so do I believe that now than I did 18 months ago.

On his website, the Coburn’s position on Iraq and the War on Terror is clearly stated:

…It is vitally important for us, when considering Iraq and the War on Terror, to remember who we are fighting and what is at stake. We have an obligation to future generations of Americans that we achieve victory in the War on Terror. The terrorists we are confronting today in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere would be on our doorstep if we retreat. It is better to confront and disrupt terrorists in far away lands rather than allowing them to once again launch attacks on us in our own cities.

Overall, the debate over troop levels in Iraq is not what matters — victory is what matters… (more)

It seems this most recent visit to Iraq has strongly validated that position for the U.S. Senator from Oklahoma.

Slatecard: A Republican Fundraising Answer to Democrat ActBlue

February 11, 2008

ActBlue has been the online clearing house for Democratic fundraising since 2004. Through this service,

ActBlue is a Federal PAC that enables anyone — individuals, local groups, and national organizations — to fundraise for the Democratic candidates of their choice.

Launched in June 2004, ActBlue created and deployed the next generation of online fundraising technology, and has raised over $37 million for Democratic candidates and committees.

Now, there is a Republican counterpart, called Slatecard. I had an opportunity to watch a Slatecard demonstration by co-founder, David All this weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C., and found the service very easy and actually fun to use.

Slatecard…acts as a “conduit” to raise money online to help Republican candidates for federal office in compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA).

It is no secret that Democrats are far ahead of Republicans in converting their online presence to offline support. One website which the Left has used effectively since 2004, is ActBlue.com (ActBlue PAC), a site which provides a tool for activists and committees to raise funds for the candidates and causes they support. In fact, millions of dollars have been raised through the site since 2004.

It is our hope that Slatecard will level the playing field for Republican candidates and causes by providing an innovative platform for use by the Right kind of activists.

Future plans include:

Our utility is available for use by all candidates running for a Republican federal office and we hope to make this service available to state and local candidates where possible in the near future.

Using a commercial vendor to handle our transactions, we are leveraging some of the lowest available rates on the market, which means that by contributing to candidates through Slatecard.com PAC, a larger percentage of the donation will actually end up going to the candidate. Soon, we will work to integrate with PayPal to offer more options to our users.

There is even a new “Causes,” section.

To see how this works in Oklahoma, I went to the “directory,” then filtered by “Senate,” and “Oklahoma.”

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As you can see, Senators Inhofe and Coburn are just getting started on this site. Eventually, Slatecard plans to have pages for the State House and Senate and City officials as well.

To find out more, go to Slatecard, or visit the Slatecard Blog.