What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Ensuring Fair Elections : HR 1591. (Fiscal 2007 supplemental appropriations bill). Coburn of Oklahoma amendment on beefing up funding for security at the presidential nominating conventions/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 121)
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HR 1591. (Fiscal 2007 supplemental appropriations bill). Coburn of Oklahoma amendment on beefing up funding for security at the presidential nominating conventions/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 121     Mar 28, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that would have deleted $100 million in the underlying bill allocated for beefing up security at the 2008 Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions, to be held in Minnesota and Colorado.

Coburn's amendment was offered to the fiscal 2007 supplemental appropriations bill. These types of bills are funding measures intended to deal with emergencies or unforeseen needs that come up after Congress has already outlined its spending priorities for the year. The underlying bill would dole out $124.2 billion in additional funding, over and above what Congress had already enacted earlier in the year, to cover continued military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also contains some domestic initiatives, such as emergency funding for hurricane recovery. Though the bill's purpose is to allocate money for emergencies, because it is considered "must-pass" legislation, often unrelated items hitch a ride.

Coburn, a fiscal conservative well known for relentlessly seeking to slash spending (including other members' pet projects, regardless of party affiliation), said the $100 million should not be in the bill because it is not needed to satisfy some urgent need or emergency. Rather, Coburn argued that its inclusion is an attempt to circumvent budgetary constraints. (If funding is classified as emergency spending, it does not count against the spending caps Congress has set for itself in any given year.)

"We are going to charge the American taxpayers $100 million for security outside of the budget," Coburn said. "We are going to spend $100 million of our grandkids' money to protect politicians while they have a party. To me, it is unconscionable. It is even more unconscionable to do it in this bill. There is nothing about this that is an emergency. There is nothing about this that was not foreseen. There is nothing about this that was not anticipated. This is a game."

Amy Klobuchar, R-Minn., disagreed, saying that the need for extra money to help bolster security at such a high-profile event is both "obvious and urgent."

"Delaying this funding until the normal appropriations process would prevent Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies from conducting the proper planning they need to do," Klobuchar said. "The Secretary of Homeland Security has already designated next year's event to be held in Minnesota a national special security event based on threat assessment. There is clear precedent for Congress providing convention cities with security funding."

The amendment was defeated 45-51, with members of both parties peeling off to vote opposite the party line. Republicans generally supported the amendment, though 10 voted against it (including several members of the Appropriations Committee, which zealously protects its jurisdictional turf). And Democrats generally opposed the amendment, though 8 voted for it (including presidential hopeful Barack Obama of Illinois). In the end the amendment was voted down, and the bill went forward with additional funding for security at the presidential nominating conventions intact.

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