The Senate tonight defeated an effort by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, to cut the federal budget rather than raising the debit limit to borrow more money.
Here’s Coburn’s reaction:
“Our $12.4 trillion debt has put our future at risk. If we don’t start cutting spending now we won’t have an economy to revive. Unfortunately, these votes show that Congress is more interested in talk than action. If members of Congress don’t have the courage to make hard budget choices we don’t need a new commission, we need a new Congress,” Dr. Coburn said.
“The American people are upset with Congress for a very simple reason. In tough times, we refuse to take small steps to cut spending, and complain about the task, while they slash their budgets. This year, Congress gave itself a nearly 6 percent ($245 million) raise, while most families cut their budgets. Few outside of Washington would agree that we earned our raise. Yet, tonight, Senators decided it was too hard to cut back and that we deserved a huge budget increase from money borrowed from American families. If Senators don’t want to lead by example the public will continue to look to leadership that will,” Dr. Coburn said of his amendment to rescind Congress’ $245 million increase for itself, which failed by a vote of 46 to 48.
“Congress does have an alternative to raising the debt limit: spend less money. Senators could have taken the small step of reducing agency budgets by 5 percent by consolidating 640 duplicative programs, yet we refused,” Dr. Coburn said of his amendment to cut agency spending outside of defense and veterans by $22 billion, which failed by a vote of 33 to 61.
The Senate also rejected a Coburn amendment to cancel the expenditure of federal funds –totaling $100 billion – that have been unspent for at least two years and not obligated for any purpose by a vote of 37 to 57.
This Senate did unanimously approve a Coburn amendment directing the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to annually identify federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives with duplicative goals and activities and make recommendations for consolidation and elimination of such duplication.
“A vote for this amendment was a vote acknowledging that it is, in fact, our job to set priorities. The GAO will send its recommendations to a commission and that commission is us,” Dr. Coburn said.