What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Adequate Government Funding for a Broad Range of Human Needs : H J Res 45. (Increasing the debt limit) Coburn of Oklahoma amendment that would take back unspent money from 13 federal agencies doled out in the prior year’s appropriations bills/On agreeing to the amendment (2010 senate Roll Call 8)
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H J Res 45. (Increasing the debt limit) Coburn of Oklahoma amendment that would take back unspent money from 13 federal agencies doled out in the prior year’s appropriations bills/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 8     Jan 26, 2010
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that would have rescinded (taken back) unspent funding from 13 federal agencies that Congress passed as part of the prior year’s appropriations bills.  The list includes the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation and Treasury. The amendment was offered to a bill that would increase the statutory debt limit by $1.9 trillion to $14.29 trillion.

Coburn said that he is trying to eliminate duplicative spending.  He cited a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found that 13 agencies spent $3 billion to fund 207 programs encouraging students to enter math and science fields, for instance.

“We are going to hear why we cannot do this. The American people are wanting to know when we are going to do what is right, what is possible, and what is best for the long term, not the short term,” Coburn said.

Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said just because programs may have the same overarching focus does not make them redundant.

“The Senator from Oklahoma proposes to cut $20 billion from programs which he describes as being redundant. Well, take, for example, nursing. There are three different programs. They are not redundant. One is for education; another is to train women and men to go to rural areas, rural America, to serve; and the third is for research. Yes, three different agencies handle that. It is for three different purposes,” Inouye said. 

By a vote of 33-61, the amendment was rejected.  Of Republicans present, 31 voted for the amendment and 7 voted against it.  All but two Democrats present voted against the amendment.  The end result is that the measure went forward without language that would have rescinded billions of dollars in unspent funding from the prior year’s appropriations bill.

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