Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013—Motion to Proceed—Continuedby Former Senator Tom Coburn
Posted on 2013-03-12
COBURN. Mr. President, first, I want to tell the chairwoman of
the Appropriations Committee that I actually very much appreciate her
work. I actually trust her to do the right thing. But we got this bill
last night at 9 o'clock. It is a 500-page bill. It has multiple levels
of authorizations in it that we found so far--authorization on an
appropriations bill. It has what I would consider--and we haven't been
completely through it--some things that are totally counterintuitive to
where we find ourselves today in terms of spending money.
Before I could grant a unanimous consent--and I will; as soon as we get through with the bill I plan on granting unanimous consent. But I want to know, we just heard the majority leader say he can't understand why somebody wants to read this bill. We are talking about in excess of $1 trillion. That is one of the problems, one of the reasons we are $17 trillion in debt. It is because people don't read the bills.
I also want to say to my friend from Alabama, I have the greatest praise for him. He knows some of the heartburn we have on this, but we knew that was coming from the House. But to not allow us the time to assess what you have produced by being able to read and study the bill is going against the best traditions of the Senate. It is also going against common sense.
How do we know whether we want to offer amendments unless we have been able to read the bill? Are we just to blindly say: Whatever you want to do we are going to approve it because we have a deadline at the end of this month? I am willing to do whatever is necessary to make sure we get a continuing resolution, but I am not willing to do that blindly. I am going to study this bill. We have three Members' staff working on this full time. They have been working since last night. They are investigating and looking at this bill. I will not go into the details of the things we have seen so far, but we ought to at least have the opportunity before we rush into granting unanimous consent to go forward.
I plan to allow unanimous consent, but I will not do so until I know what the agreement is going to be in terms of amendments. Even if we read the bill and have some good ideas, we don't know whether we are going to be able to offer any. This is an appropriations [[Page S1688]] bill. We ought to be able to offer amendments with our ideas on ways to save this country money, increase its efficiency, increase its effectiveness, and still meet the deadline that the chairwoman outlined.
I hope the Senator understands why we are not in a mood to grant it until we actually know what we are talking about. To ask anything less of us would be asking us to deny the very oath we took when we came here.
With that, I yield the floor and thank my colleague John McCain for being here.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.