4:04 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I want the American people to know where we stand financially. The war on terror will not defeat us. We will defeat ourselves. Every known republic to the world collapsed through fiscal mismanagement. We can read the history, Alexander Tyler on the Athenian empire, several other scholarly works throughout the last two to three centuries.

What we are really talking about is our kids. They are not my kids. My kids are grown. They are all in their [Page: S10341]

30s. We are talking about youngsters this age. She makes a great point. She is already $38,375 in debt, and all she owns is a dollhouse. The sad thing is, she totally underestimates, because her obligation for things we have promised ourselves for which she will have to pay above and beyond income tax rates we have today, Social Security taxes

and Medicare taxes, is just a mere $400,000. So by the time she becomes 20, she will owe $800,000, if we count the interest which is coming. It is not long before we will be spending a trillion dollars a year on interest. And this number, by that time, will be $118,000. So now we will have her at $918,000 that she is going to have to pay off for us.

Think about that as a moral question. Should we in fact cut the legs off our grandchildren so that politicians and political leaders today can spin things and avoid making the most difficult choices that we now need to make? If one follows the news, especially the financial news, the problem the United States faces today is the fact that the world is losing confidence in the dollar. There is a reason for that. What is the reason? The world is starting to sense that as we continue to borrow more

and more billions and trillions of dollars that we will not be able to pay it back. Therefore, the world's valuation of our currency becomes less confident. Therefore, the cost to borrow in the future becomes higher. The figure I just quoted, the $918,000 per child who is born over the next 30 years, is based on today's interest rates of 3.4 percent

on a 10-year note that the Government offers. What happens when the interest rates are 10 or 11 percent? We are talking about a fiscal collapse that has never before been seen in the history of the world. Yet we continue to put spending bills on the floor and laud the fact that we are only borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar we spend this year.

There will come a time when we can't borrow 43 cents out of every dollar we spend. What will we do then? What will happen then? What will happen is the following: We will either see a totally debased currency which means everything we worked for our entire life will be markedly decreased in value or we will see 15, 20, 30 percent inflation. There is no other exit for this other than for us to do the following: We have to start making the hard choices now.

This bill doesn't do it. From 2008 to 2009, the fiscal year ended September 30, we increased CJS by 15.5 percent. This bill comes back and increases it another 12.6 percent. Compound that out and we find, without the stimulus money they also got, that we will double the size of this agency in less than 4 years. I am not sure that is what we want.

Here is what we have done so far. If we look at the bottom corner, inflation is expected to be less than 1.6 percent. Yet we see the following percentage increases: 5.7; 7.2; Energy and Water, 1.4--the only reason it was 1.4 is because they got $45 billion from the stimulus--Agriculture, 12.6; Treasury-HUD, 22.5; Interior, 16.2; and now CJS, 12.6.

Most families--and I know almost every business--are making hard choices right now about what they spend money on and what they do not. They are in tough times. Somehow that hasn't reverberated to this body. If it has, it has not reverberated to the appropriations committees of the House or Senate. That will be an amendment to freeze spending at last year's level, which could easily be done, but we don't have the courage to do that. There will be several other amendments offered. They are working

on an agreement at this time.

I will be offering three amendments. I will wait until the Senator from Maryland comes before offering them. I understand they don't want me to call them up at this time. So I will not. One of the amendments limits funding to the National Science Foundation. It has created quite an uproar with political scientists that we would dare decrease the amount of money we spend on figuring out why politicians are vague or why certain people vote a certain way or the other way. What happens when we spend

money on obvious answers is that money for the National Science Foundation doesn't go to cure a disease. It doesn't go to make an absolute impact on some child who is suffering from a chronic disease that unless the research dollars are there, they will never have a normal life or lifestyle. In fact, everybody screams when some of their money gets attacked.

So the political scientists in the country, those who get this money, $91.3 million over the last 10 years that we have doled out to political scientists, that $91 million could have gone to the study of biology or chemistry or pharmaceutical science or fields of endeavor such as micronutrients or cellular metabolism or genetic manipulation so we can cure a disease. Instead, where do they spend the money? Campaigns and elections, electoral choice systems, political change, domestic conflict,

party activism, political psychology, and political tolerance.

What are some of the good things NSF does? NSF scientists have developed new computer-generated robotics to help people with severe disabilities. They can do what we can do, those of us who don't have a physical disability, except they can now do it with a robot. They become independent again and get their life back. NSF supported engineers that created a bone substitute that blends in tendon tissues which mimics natural bone and provides better integration so that people with lost movement in

their joints have it returned. NSF created technology with their grants to engineer the next generation of biofuels. We are seeing the science. They created a new type of fiber reinforced concrete that bends without cracking. It is 300 to 500 times more resistant to cracking and 40 percent lighter in weight which means we can build bridges that will never fall down. We won't have a Minnesota tragedy again. That is the real science from the National Science Foundation.

Let me give a little hint of what the National Science Foundation projects for political science have been.

There is $188,206 to ask the question: Why do political candidates make vague statements, and what are the consequences? We all know the answer to that. They make vague statements because they want to get reelected. They do not want to get pinned down. It is not hard to figure out, but we blew a lot of money on it.

How about a grant for political discussion in the workplace? That has to be an important priority for the country now that we are running a $1.6 trillion deficit.

Here is one: television news and the visual framing of war. I am certain that is an important research topic that we should sacrifice our children's future for, and I know it must be a priority for her, this little girl, whose daddy or mama was smart enough to recognize what the real consequences of our behavior are.

Or how about another study: Why people are for or against military conflicts? Nobody is for military conflicts. They are for the defense of our country. But to spend money to study why people are for or against? Tell me what that contributes to her future?

I am accused of being a flatlander. I do come from Oklahoma. I was born in Wyoming. But there is one difference with us flatlanders: we actually have worked in our lives, we understand common sense, and we have had to make hard choices before.

How about this study, the impact of Medicare reform on senior citizens' political views. I can tell you what it is. We take away a benefit, they are not going to like it; we add a benefit, they are going to like it. Send me the check. I will do it for free. It is plain, old common sense. It may be nice to have the statistics behind that, but we all know the answer to those questions.

Here is another one: evaluate whip counts. Let me tell you what a whip count is. Every party has a whip so they can count the votes before they happen so they think they know what is going to happen on the vote, so they know what votes to bring up and what votes not to. We are going to have a study by Congress: How do whip counts impact party leaders in the legislative process? Who cares. Nobody should care about that. What we should care about is her future. We have our priorities totally upside

down and turned on their ear.

How about a conference on the effect of YouTube on the 2008 election. Now, the people who are interested in that are politicians because ``how do we use YouTube to get reelected?'' Should we [Page: S10342]

be paying for that with your tax dollars? ``How do we keep incumbents incumbents?'' I would think a better study of political science is, how do you throw us all out. That is a better use of the funds. How do you get rid of us since we are doing such a terrible

job managing the finances of this country?

Or how about the ``NewsHour'' with Jim Lehrer--to pay for complete, live, prime-time gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Democratic and GOP National Conventions. Guess what. They were covered by three other networks free. We did not pay them a penny. Yet we pay this.

We are going to increase NSF's budget in this bill 8 percent, the National Science Foundation. It is the one we ought to be increasing 12 or 15 percent, but it ought to be on real science, on pure science, on science that has an outcome we can measure that is not related to the observation of common fact but is new research that will derive great benefits for the people of this country.

So I will be offering an amendment to limit the amount of money. We are going to hear all sorts of claims. What we have heard already on the blogs is that National Science Foundation political science research contributes to our understanding of democracy. I think we have pretty well figured what democracy is. ``Our ability to have a free and open democratic process would be significantly harmed without this research.''

You know what is being harmed is her generation, as we foolishly spend dollar after dollar on things that are not a priority--hundreds of millions of dollars on program after program after program that 90 percent of Americans could say: That might be fine if we were in a cash-rich position, but at a time when the Federal Government is about to double every 4 years and the debt is about to double every 5 years, wouldn't it be smart to not spend money we don't have on things we don't need? So that

is what this amendment is.

There is another claim: The loss of National Science Foundation funding will significantly harm political science research in this country. Let me give you a few facts about that. The University of Michigan--they are the receiver of the largest grant under the NSF--has a $7.5 billion endowment. That is just one of the universities--$7.5 billion--and we are supposed to keep sending, every 10 years, $100 million for political science research.

Here is the political science--here it is: The heritage of this Nation is that one generation creates opportunity for the next by sacrificing, making the hard choices they need to make to make sure what has worked in the past will provide them opportunities in the future. This does not do any of that. What it says is, the ones who are on the ins, the people who are well connected now, the people who are dependent on millions of dollars of funding--when they are sitting with billions of dollars

in their endowments--are worth more than she is. That is exactly the problem.

Until we figure out we are going to have to make some tough sacrifices, her future is at risk. Unless we do this fairly soon, we could very well be on an irreversible course. Two or three more years of spending the way we are spending and borrowing the way we are borrowing will doom her to a standard of living 40 percent below what we see today. Those are not my words, the economists agree. The governments are going to end up consuming 45 or 50 percent of our total GDP. We are at 10 percent this

year--the highest in our history with the exception of being in the midst of World War II. Never have we been in such shape as we are in today.

I think we have a lot of things wrong. But the No. 1 thing we have wrong is we have forgotten that service is about sacrifice. Service is about giving up something of you so somebody else gets ahead. We cannot expect the American people to model that behavior if we are not willing to do it. If everything we do is about protecting our own vested political interests and protecting our campaign contributors and protecting the well connected and not excluding and divorcing ourselves from all of that

and making great commonsense judgments, we are history as a nation.

I wonder when it started. I wonder when it started that we decided we were more important than the country. I wonder when it started when we decided we would push our hand and say: Stop the heritage of this country. When did it start that we decided we were worth more than the generations that follow us? When did it start that we decided we were not brave enough to take the hits to make the hard choices so the Republic can be preserved? When did it start? When did that cowardice start because

it is ever present now as we go through the appropriations process.

I ran a business for 9 years, and I learned a lot doing that. I learned a lot about people. But I also learned a lot about making tough choices. We, in fact, can make tough choices and preserve what is good and best and brightest in all of us. As a matter of fact, hope comes from that, when people make those tough decisions that, in fact, consider the very personal nature of how individuals are affected and they are at work for the common good for the long run.

You see, there is not a business out there today that is surviving just thinking only in the short run. If they are, they will not be here 2 years from now. They are all thinking in the long run. They are all positioning, planning, managing, developing. The same with families. They are doing that right now at the dinner table--positioning, planning, developing what is going to come next: How we are going to get where we want to go. We are in a rough period now. What do we cut back? What is the

thing that we sacrifice today to secure the future for our family tomorrow?

Ashamedly, not much of that exists in Washington. What does exist is a willingness to say yes to everybody, and then wink and nod and try to have it both ways. I am not a both ways kind of guy, and neither is America. The great sheet is about to be lifted over the, I would use, imbecilic methods of Washington. When transparency gets its full view, America is going to make some major changes, and I am not talking Republican-Democrat. I am talking both.

This is a problem of elitism. This is a problem of short-term thinking by the political leaders of this country on: How do I manage my political career and to heck with the rest of the country. Nobody in their right mind would bring appropriations bills to the floor that have these types of increases at a time when we are stealing $1.4 trillion from our grandkids. How do we justify it? How do we justify growing the Federal Government at a time when families are struggling like they have never

struggled except during World War II and the Great Depression? How do we justify that?

We do not justify it. We cannot justify it. What we can do, and what will happen in the debate on the amendments I bring forward--they will be ignored. They just will not debate it. It will go away. That is what happens when we bring critical amendments to the floor and question the wisdom of growing the Federal Government larger and larger without developing a way to pay for it and without taking a critical look at all of those programs out there.

There is $350 billion worth of waste, fraud, and duplication in the Federal Government right now. The American people ought to be clamoring that we freeze spending everywhere until we have done a review of every government program that is out there--just like they are doing with their own families, just like they are doing with their own businesses, just like every organization in America today is having to do, except governments.

How is it this can happen? How is it we can go down the sewer drain just like other republics, knowing what history says will happen to us if, in fact, we abandon fiscal sanity? That is what this appropriations bill does, and all the rest of them we have passed because, in fact, we will double the size of the Federal Government in the next 4 years, based on 2008, 2009, not counting the stimulus.

If we are running a $1.4 trillion deficit--actually $1.8 trillion when we count everything we have stolen from Social Security and everything we have stolen from, for example, the inland waterways trust fund and the other trust funds; and we have not funded any Federal pensions; and, by the way, we have not funded anything else we have an obligation for, such as [Page: S10343]

VA health care or military retirement--none of those things are funded--what happens when

we get in the crunch?

What happens when nobody loans to us anymore? Wouldn't it be prudent to prepare for that? Wouldn't it be prudent for us to dig in as a nation--Democrats and Republicans and Independents--and say: Time out. Let's look where we are. Let's quit wasting $350 billion a year. Let's eliminate the duplication. There are 800 programs outside the Department of Education that are run by the Federal Government for education--outside the Department of Education. How about eliminating them or at least putting

them in the Department of Education and consolidating them. And oh, by the way, education has done a wonderful job at the Federal Government level. As soon as the Federal Government got into our educational system, our scores started declining, our graduation rates started declining, and our college graduation rates started declining. That is the record of the Federal Government's involvement in education in this country.

There is a lot we can fix, not just my ideas. The question I am asking is, Why aren't we asking the question? Why aren't the American people challenging their elected Members to the Senate and the House? Where are your priorities? Does she not matter? Does their future not matter? Answer the question: With $918,000 worth of unfunded liability and debt for which at 20 years of age she will be paying--we will be paying the interest, which means the taxes for that interest will come back to her

eventually--how will she get a college education? How will she own a home besides a dollhouse? How will it happen? Will Tinker Bell just come down and give it to her? That isn't going to happen. So as we think outyears, we ought to be thinking about what our actions today are going to cost. Yet we don't.

These are disturbing times. These are not just disturbing times because we face a war on terror, and they are not disturbing times because we have an economic downturn. What is disturbing is that we absolutely have avoided leadership in bringing this country back to its commonsense basics of spending money we have for things that are an ultimate priority, not spending money we don't have on things we don't need. A large portion of these appropriations bills spends money we don't have on things

we don't need. We may want them. There is no question that politicians want them. There is no question that the National Science Foundation political science grantees want them. Do we need them? That is the question. And we have no leadership that will discern, at a crucial juncture in our history, a path that will bring us to not only a recovery from this recession but a recovery for an opportunity for every child her age.

It is deeply personal with me. I have five grandchildren. I look in their eyes, and I see the potential of their lives and all of these other children who are out there. There is tremendous potential in them. You know what, we are going to waterboard them. That is what we are going to do. We are going to waterboard them. We are going to flood them with debt. We are going to shackle their opportunities. We are going to limit their possibilities because we don't have the courage to make the difference

for their future.

Mr. President, I will yield the floor, and I will come back and offer my amendments when the Senator from Maryland arrives.

With that, I note the absence of a quorum.

4:40 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I wish to talk about amendment No. 2667. This is a fairly straightforward amendment.

The House has $5 million for renovation of the Hoover Building. There is [Page: S10344]

no question that we need to have a continuing ongoing project of renovating that. However, in the Senate, we have $17.5 million.

If we look at the Commerce Department and what is going wrong, what we see is that because we are limited by funds, we don't have an active enough oversight of what is going on inside; otherwise, we could never account for the billions of dollars of waste on the census.

This is a straightforward amendment. It just says: Of that $17.5 million, we are going to take $5 million, which still puts us at 2 1/2 times what the House has, and direct it toward the Inspector General's Office of the Commerce Department. What that does is it enhances oversight, enhances transparency, and enhances communication back to the Commerce Department so we can see what is going on with an agency that is obviously troubled.

The inspector general's department, and agency-wide, is fielded by tough, great people who probably would pretty much agree with everything I spent the last hour talking about. The fact is, they are limited in what they can do. They are limited by the funds we give them. So we now come down again to priorities. Do we build bicycle racks out in front of the Herbert C. Hoover Building or do we spend money making sure the inspectors general and the auditors can actually see what is going on in this


It is very straightforward. It is going to be a fun vote. I understand how amendments go on the Senate floor when we are in the mood to spend money and not act responsibly. But do we really want transparency, do we really want to know what is going on, do we really want to discover the reason we are in such big trouble, and do we really want to fund the inspector general at a level that will give us the information upon which we can make better decisions? That leaves alone the question of whether

we will make better decisions. I have a lack of confidence on that, but at least with the right information, we will be able to, in fact, see what is going on.

We continue not to prioritize funds. The Department of Commerce is going to get a 52-percent increase in funding in our version of this bill. It receives $7.9 billion in additional stimulus funds. That was 85 percent of what they received entirely in 2009, which means in a matter of 2 years we will have given them on average three times what they receive normally in a year. So we are talking about taking a small portion--$5 million--and directing it to the Inspector General's Office so they can

do what is needed to be done in terms of carrying out their responsibilities.

There is no question in my mind that the Department of Commerce is suffering from mismanagement. I am not directing this to the present Secretary; I am directing this backwards through the Bush administration. Here are some statements that were made in the Senate report accompanying this bill:

The committee is extremely concerned about the persistent pattern of cost overruns and schedule slippages on major projects and missions carried out by the agencies in this bill.

The committee remains apprehensive about the management of the census.

Reports have exposed a culture within many agencies that exhibits a lack of accountability in oversight of grant funding.

The committee is concerned that the Census Bureau has failed to implement three recommendations by the IG.

NOAA's satellite programs have undergone extensive independent reviews after experiencing cost overruns, delays, and setbacks.

The National Polar Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite system has struggled for years with cost overruns and schedule delays and a high risk of gaps occurring to the Nation's weather and climate satellites.

The committee remains concerned by the lack of progress in reducing patent pendency and the overall patent backlog.

I note the committee routinely takes money away from patent fees to use on other funds. As such, the committee has provided bill language to transfer funding to the Office of the Inspector General for the express purpose of conducting all audit engagements in the oversight of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Despite these concerns--and I didn't list them all--with the Commerce Department, and a 52-percent increase in spending in the bill, if you were concerned, why would you increase spending that much? That is No. 1. The account for the inspector general is increased only by 4.4 percent. So this is a measly little $5 million out of a $17.5 million increase. The House only has $5 million for the Herbert C. Hoover Building. So we put 2 1/2 times what the House does in the building, and we actually

give the IG the money he needs to do his job. There isn't an agency that needs more oversight and more work by an inspector general than the Commerce Department.

I will limit my comments on this at the present time, and I will defer to the chairman, if she wishes to speak; Otherwise, I will discuss one of the other amendments.

4:47 PM EDT

Barbara A. Mikulski, D-MD

Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, first, we acknowledge the need for the Commerce Department to clean up its act in terms of its spending. The Senator from Oklahoma has indeed identified the very programs that give me heartburn as well: the NOAA satellite program, which continually has cost overruns; the decennial census, until we intervened with Secretary Gutierrez, had become a techno boondoggle; the backlog at the Patent and Trademark Office is well known.

However, he proposes to increase funds for the IG, even though the bill already meets the request for this office. This amendment is unnecessary because we provide $27 million for the Commerce inspector general. This matches what President Obama said he wanted to put in the Federal budget, and he thought it would do the job. In fiscal year 2009, the IG of Commerce received 25.8. So we puffed it up 1.2 million already. In addition to the stimulus package, just to be sure that money was going in

the right direction, we in the subcommittee, working on a bipartisan basis with Senator Shelby, put in an additional $6 million to make sure we did have oversight and accountability. We have not received any indication from the IG that that IG needs more money. Unnecessary funding will not make those problems go away. What we want to do is be able to push them, advocate them, and stand sentry.

The building restoration which this amendment proposes to do will only add to the Commerce Department's problems. It is called the Herbert C. Hoover Building. The building is in substandard condition. It really is in substandard condition. It is the only building over there that has not been upgraded in several years. Funding in this bill would begin to modernize it, particularly in much needed health and safety codes--heating, air conditioning, electricity, and plumbing. Funding in this covers

the long partnership with GSA. I want the Senator from Oklahoma to know I agree that we have to stand sentry on Commerce. If you go over the bill, I have added some tough provisions with Senator Shelby on oversight--particularly on this NOAA satellite

program. But taking from much needed repairs at Commerce to fund the much needed repairs in oversight I don't think cuts it. I will oppose the amendment of the Senator from Oklahoma, though I think he and I are on the same broadband about necessary stewardship.

4:50 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK

Mr. COBURN. We have communication from the GSA that says this amendment will not inhibit any of the plans, upgrades, or improvements to the Herbert C. Hoover Building. No. 2, we all admit there are problems at the Commerce Department. We have a 12.6-percent increase in spending but we increase the IG by 4.4 percent. We are going to increase spending three times faster than the ability to track it and oversee it. We did increase it 4.4 percent, but we increased the agency 12.6 percent. We have

our priorities backward. We should be increasing the IG by 12.6 percent and the agency 4 percent, or 1.6 percent to match inflation.

This amendment will not, in any way, according to GSA, impede their ability to make the corrections that they need to make in terms of health and safety at the Herbert C. Hoover Building.

I thank the chairman for her recognition of the problems at this agency. The answer to solve it is to let the dogs run. Let them find it. Let them go after it. Let them bring to light transparency, and let them bring the reports that we need so we can make the changes we need. [Page: S10345]


I want to spend a few moments on my next amendment, No. 2632. This is a very similar amendment. I spoke about it earlier. This amendment says that whatever reports we ask for, whatever answers we want from these agencies, in fact, unless it has to do with national security or defense, should be reported to every Senator, not just the Senators on the Appropriations Committee. And more importantly, it should be reported to everybody in America. This is a great open government amendment which says

we will be transparent.

We are requesting numerous reports in this bill. Why should the American people not get to see what those reports show? Why should we not get to see how we are spending our money, why we are spending our money, and whether the effect of spending the money is having the desired outcome? H.R. 2847 requires reports, audits, and evaluates all decision documents and expenditures by the Bureau of the Census. We all know that has been a problem. And I dispute that Secretary Gutierrez did anything about

the problem, other than talk the former leader of the census into leaving. Secretary Gutierrez should have been following the census to know before it ever got in that kind of shape. We have a wonderful leader there now, and I fully support him. I supported his nomination, and I supported his approval by the Senate.

This would also require a quarterly report by the Attorney General regarding the costs and contracting procedures related to each conference held by the Department of Justice. Why should not everybody get to see that? Why should not Americans, who are actually paying for that, and their grandkids, such as this young lady in the photo, get to see it? Why should she not get to see that? This is straightforward. We will have a vote on this amendment. I have learned my lesson on not getting them

accepted. When they go to conference, we still hide it from the American people. So we will have a vote on this amendment and see whether people want to hide what we are doing or want it exposed fully to the American people. It is a good government amendment.

We also have a request for a report that the Secretary, within 120 days of enactment of this act, shall report to the Committee on Appropriations that audits and evaluates all decision documents and expenditures by the Bureau of Census as it relates to the 2010 census. Why just the Senators on the Appropriations Committee? Why not the American people? Why should they not see that?

The other thing it will do is allow us to conduct better oversight. The committee chairman--I have great regard for the Senator from Maryland, because I think she does care about oversight. I cannot say that about all of our colleagues on the Appropriations Committee. We would have done a lot of oversight on the Census Bureau in the Government Affairs Subcommittee. I can tell you that we have great employees there. We have had terrible leadership until now. At $60 a person to count people in

the United States, people ought to ask why. How did we allow this to happen?

This amendment is one that the vast majority of Americans concur with and the vast majority of my colleagues, I hope, will concur with.

I yield to the chairman of the committee.

4:56 PM EDT

Barbara A. Mikulski, D-MD

Ms. MIKULSKI. I want to make a comment about the status of the Commerce Department building. I will be very clear that the subcommittee, on a bipartisan basis, supports vigorous oversight. The Commerce Building has not been renovated in more than 20 years.

Let me quote to you from the Washington Post in an article called ``NOAA's Ark.'' It says:

When the Marine ecologist Jane Lubchenko was finally confirmed in March as the Under Secretary of Commerce in charge of NOAA, she went to check into her new digs on the fifth floor at the Commerce Department. It was a fine corner on 15th and Constitution, nothing fancy, but it overlooked the Washington Monument. But when she opened the door and she went to powder her nose, she found a massive Norwegian rat. The critter had come in through the derelict plumbing that was in her office. Now, she,

with her typical good humor, laughed it off and said, as an ecologist, she found it biologically fascinating that sewer rats were able to come into the Commerce Department.

We told her she couldn't have a grant to study it, but we wanted to do something about the renovation. That is what we are--we want the best and the brightest to work in our government agencies, and to come up with new ideas such as in NOAA, to save the planet, to do the necessary scientific research to save fisheries. In that case, it would have influenced the economy of my State tremendously. We cannot minimize the need to refurbish that building. Air pockets have been developing in the plumbing

at the Department of Commerce, and in order to get rid of the rats, you have to have regular flushes. This is not a laughing matter. It sounds like a laughing matter, but I want to be able to go forward to modernize the Commerce Department, working with the Secretary, and continue our vigorous oversight. Let's modernize the building. I hope we can defeat that amendment.

There is an amendment that the Senator from Oklahoma has offered that requires more transparency in our reports to Congress. I think that is a good idea. Again, discussing this with my colleague, Senator Shelby, we both think it is a good idea. If the Senator from Oklahoma will concur--because I am for transparency and I believe we cannot have enough of it so that the American people can see things and make up their own minds--in the interest of time, I would accept the amendment. If

the Senator would be willing to do a voice vote, I would be more than willing to accommodate that. I think the amendment is excellent and I believe it improves the bill. I am happy to accept it, or have it voice voted, or have a recorded vote, whatever the Senator wants.

5:00 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I thank the chairman for her words on this amendment. I have learned a very critical lesson. We have an Energy and Water Appropriations bill that we did the same thing on. For some reason, it didn't come out of conference. Transparency didn't come out. I don't doubt the veracity of the senior Senator from Maryland, but I would just as soon have a recorded vote, if she would not mind.

I also want to answer the story of the rat, which is a great example of the mismanagement at the Department of Commerce.

It does not relate to the present Secretary at all. If, in fact, you have plumbing problems in the building, the management is supposed to raise that issue. In fact, the Department of Commerce received a large sum of money with the stimulus. The House has only $5 million for the Herbert C. Hoover Building. GSA says this amendment will not limit at all their ability to accomplish what they want to accomplish there.

So if, in fact, $17.5 million is enough to get it done, why would we object to having more than that--if GSA says it is only going to pay $17.5 million, why are we putting $22.5 million in it in the first place?

The example proves my point: Management is lacking. With vigorous leadership and a vigorous, strong inspector general force that is funded at the same level of increase that we fund the government, as far as percentage of increases, we could hope to accomplish that.


I will move to my other amendment No. 2631. I spent a lot of time talking about this amendment before the chairman came to the floor. I will not repeat everything I said, but I will discuss the question of priorities.

I have a great respect for a lot of what the National Science Foundation does. I have very little respect for their grants for political science as a science. Part of that is because I think it is low on the priority of where they should be spending money when we can create things through NSF to save lives and also because of some of the grants that have been spent and put out there.

I will review a few of those over a short period of time and then will yield the floor to my colleague, the chairman of this subcommittee.

How do you back up the fact that the National Science Foundation gives a [Page: S10346]

grant for political science--here is the question asked: Why do political candidates make vague statements and what are the consequences? In the realm of science, being a physician, being trained in the sciences, first of all, it is a question to which we already know the answer. We know why politicians make vague statements. Because they don't want to get pinned down. But most

important, they want to get reelected or elected. For us to send money to study something that stupid, that low on priorities is beyond me.

Or why are people for or against military conflicts? Do we need that science to tell us so that the next time we are in a military conflict we go out and manipulate the American people or do we have military conflicts based on the national defense and security interests of this country, even when there are political consequences to it?

The real world would never fund such stupidness. They would never allow millions and millions of dollars every year to be spent on silly things to help politicians understand why they spin or why they do not answer questions or why people might be for or against war. It is pretty easy to figure out.

Or studying how Medicare reform affects seniors' political views. That is pretty easy: If it hurts me, I am ``agin'' it; if it helps me, I am for it. Yet we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars paying for grants, through the National Science Foundation, to universities that have billions and billions of dollars in endowments. As a matter of fact, Tufts University has billions in endowments. They charge their students $40,000 a year in tuition alone. They are the recipients of some of this grant

work, and they are the ones squawking the loudest.

So here we have an entitled class of professors in political science who now don't want their gravy train taken away when I say right now there is no way this can be a priority for this country with the debt we have and the economic situation we have. It cannot be as important as a multitude of other things for this young lady. It cannot be.

I do not have any illusions about what is going to happen to this amendment. I know the appropriators reign supreme. What I am hoping is that the American people ultimately reign supreme. So as we vote to vote down this amendment or they vote to table this amendment so they do not have to directly vote on the amendment, one has to walk back and say: What is going on in Washington that you will not clean up the excesses in a time of great national distress? We will not and we haven't, and that

is why we have a giant increase from last year and this year. We entered the recession in 2007, remember? That is why we borrowed 43 cents out of every $1 we spent this year because we will not make these hard, tough choices about why politicians are vague, while we continue to spend millions and millions of dollars so somebody can sit in an office and pontificate and you can see the same answer--all you have to do is look at the news shows and you get the same answers.

5:08 PM EDT

Barbara A. Mikulski, D-MD

Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I would like to speak on these amendments for as much time as I may consume, and then if there is some remaining time, perhaps we could, in the interest of comity, share some time. As I understand it, there is a vote scheduled at 5:30.

5:08 PM EDT

Barbara A. Mikulski, D-MD

Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, before the Senator leaves, I wish to give him two punch lines. First of all, I know he doesn't think much of political science. He made that clear. But I wish to bring to his attention that Dr. Elinor Ostrom, who just won the Nobel Prize for Economics, is a political scientist. She received most of her funding through the National Science Foundation--28 grant awards since 1974. Those grants helped her lay the groundwork for winning the Nobel Prize. She is a political

scientist, but she used that talent to win the prize. I will elaborate on that. I am a big fan of her work.

The other point I wish to bring to the Senator's attention is that the National Science Foundation has an $8 million agreement with DOD in their Social Science Department on the social science dimensions of national security, conflicts, and cooperation. DOD, under its Minerva initiative, has joined with the National Science Foundation because they want academic researchers involved in studying authoritarian regimes, the strategic impact of religious and cultural change, terrorist organizations,

and other new dimensions in social security. I will describe those grants in detail.

5:10 PM EDT

Barbara A. Mikulski, D-MD

Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, before the Senator leaves, I wish to give him two punch lines. First of all, I know he doesn't think much of political science. He made that clear. But I wish to bring to his attention that Dr. Elinor Ostrom, who just won the Nobel Prize for Economics, is a political scientist. She received most of her funding through the National Science Foundation--28 grant awards since 1974. Those grants helped her lay the groundwork for winning the Nobel Prize. She is a political

scientist, but she used that talent to win the prize. I will elaborate on that. I am a big fan of her work.

The other point I wish to bring to the Senator's attention is that the National Science Foundation has an $8 million agreement with DOD in their Social Science Department on the social science dimensions of national security, conflicts, and cooperation. DOD, under its Minerva initiative, has joined with the National Science Foundation because they want academic researchers involved in studying authoritarian regimes, the strategic impact of religious and cultural change, terrorist organizations,

and other new dimensions in social security. I will describe those grants in detail.

5:10 PM EDT

Barbara A. Mikulski, D-MD

Ms. MIKULSKI. In a minute. What I wish to make clear is that the National Science Foundation has helped fund the work that laid the groundwork for a talented person to win not only the Nobel Prize but to come up with the kind of ideas where maybe we could win markets and jobs. The Department of Defense thought enough of the National Science Foundation's Social Science Department to come up with an $8 million--and it is not a lot of money--but an $8 million agreement to fund 17 projects, where

they are going to be studying things such as authoritarian regimes, terrorist organizations, the impact on religious and cultural change, and how maybe they could avoid us being blown up. If one of those studies helps one policymaker make one decision to save one marine, I think it is worth the 8 million bucks, and I am willing to put it in the Federal budget.

I will be happy to yield for a question.

5:11 PM EDT

Tom Coburn M.D., R-OK

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, will the Senator agree that the Defense Department funds all sorts of research in all sorts of scientific areas, and they don't necessarily do that on the predicate--they do it on the basis of what their need is. There is a very big difference, does the Senator agree, between the social sciences and political science?

5:12 PM EDT

Barbara A. Mikulski, D-MD

Ms. MIKULSKI. Within these DOD grants, I am not sure which ones are sociology, anthropology or political science because it is in that one directorate.

5:12 PM EDT

Barbara A. Mikulski, D-MD

Ms. MIKULSKI. Mr. President, I oppose, as you can see, the amendment of the Senator from Oklahoma. He wants to eliminate $9 million from the political science program at the National Science Foundation. I don't like targeting an individual science area. Today it might be political science. Another Senator might target biology. Remember how we stifled science under the gag rules and gag guidelines of stem cell research?

Also, I don't like trivializing academic research and academics, that somehow or another there is worthwhile science and then there are others that can be minimized or trivialized.

First, I remind everyone about the work of the National Science Foundation. The NSF has received bipartisan support, and in rising above the gathering storm, the National Academy of Sciences pointed out that the National Science Foundation is one of our lead agencies in promoting innovation through its research and its education programs.

This bill also supports the funding for the Directorate for Social, Behavior and Economic Science. That is the one, which I talked about with the Senator from Oklahoma, which oversees the political science office. This directorate's mission is to use basic research to understand human and institutional behavior vital to rebuilding our national infrastructure and understanding how we operate as a society.

This program began in 1962, and over the years, it has also included an open, [Page: S10347]

transparent relationship with the Department of Defense. This is not black-box research. This is out-of-the-box research so maybe we could figure out our world better and deal with conflict resolution or when we are in a conflict, how we can work with other people around the world and build democratic societies and democratic institutions.

In recent news, we also were awakened with great pride that two American women won the Nobel Prize. One is Dr. Greider, in my home State of Maryland at Johns Hopkins. I talked with Dr. Greider the other day. Wow, what a great American scientist. She answered her own phone. She was going to join her daughter at a soccer game right after she had gotten the call from Stockholm. As we talked about her groundbreaking research in microbiology, she said she was able to do her work because of the grants

she had received through the National Institutes of Health.

They had helped her get her education, and they had helped her do her research. They helped her to win the Nobel Prize. But for herself, she thought the prize would be a tribute to what her work was in microbiology that could lead to saving lives.

We also had another woman win the Nobel Prize--Dr. Elinor Ostrom. Her training is in political science. She won the Nobel Prize for economics. She is the first woman ever to win the prize for economics--an American woman. Although not in the Congress, she has received several political science grants from NSF because political science also looks at institutions which also have an impact on our economy. Since 1974, Dr. Ostrom has received over 20 grants, and these grants helped her do her fieldwork

all over the world in relationship to the economic activity of people and communities. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences thought enough of her work to award her the Nobel Prize. But long before they heard of her in Stockholm, the National Science Foundation had heard of her and helped her with her award-winning research.

We have to keep this going. Our National Science Foundation and our other scientific institutions must go where no thought has gone before. That is the point of discovery. Discovery has led to innovation. Innovation leads to the new ideas that lead to the new jobs in our society. A society that doesn't innovate stagnates. And innovation comes not only in engineering, though much needed; it doesn't only come in physics, though much desired; it doesn't come only in medicine, in the biological research,

though much revered; a lot of this is the basic social sciences.

As I said to the Senator from Oklahoma, for the last 8 years there has been a relationship between DOD and the National Science Foundation--again, in open, transparent research. And here, I am quoting from the ``Federal Technology Watch,'' October 6, 2009. ``Federal Technology Watch'' is a weekly report on Federal technology, science, and policy areas.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record the article from which I am going to quote.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:

5:19 PM EDT

Barbara A. Mikulski, D-MD

Ms. MIKULSKI. The quote is as follows:

$8 million has been awarded to 17 projects by the NSF under a joint NSF/Department of Defense solicitation. The competition, Social and Behavioral Dimensions of National Security, Conflict and Cooperation, is focused on basic social and behavioral science of strategic importance to US national security policy.

So again, the competition is in the social science directorate. And the four topic areas the DOD thought it was important to contract out, through the [Page: S10351]

NSF, are in the following areas, according to this article:

Authoritarian regimes, the strategic impact of religious and cultural change, terrorist organizations and idealogies, and new dimensions in national security.

They awarded these 17 grants, and let me read what some of them are. One is experimental analysis of alternative models of conflict bargaining. Now, you might say: Ho-hum. But you know what, maybe some idea out of that will help us crack how we can bring peace to the Middle East. Another is mapping terrorist organizations. Well, that is a pretty good idea. Maybe some of that research will help us get out of Afghanistan. How about predicting the nature of conflict? Well, we kind of know what that

is, but do we really? Because if we understand the nature of conflict, maybe we can learn to defang conflict.

Let's look at another issue which I am very concerned about because of my worry about the planet--avoiding water wars: environmental security. These may be new threats to the United States.

I could read every one of these, but what I want to say is that DOD has partnered with NSF--to quote from this article--``to reach the broadest range of academic, social and behavioral science, and this collaboration combines the insights of DOD with the peer review expertise of NSF in support of the agencies' desire to promote basic social and behavioral research in areas that will benefit the United States.''

``Federal Technology Watch'' said it best. To take out $9 million is really penny-wise and pound-foolish. I am going to oppose the amendment of the Senator on that issue. I will oppose the amendment of the Senator on taking money from much-needed Commerce Department renovations and putting it in IG because we do fund the President's request in IG.

I do, however, like the amendment of the Senator from Oklahoma on more transparency in government reports that are coming into the Commerce Department. I believe we could have passed that one by voice vote. I am sorry we have to go through the mechanics of a recorded vote. He is worried I would drop it in conference, but I could give him my word that we would maintain that amendment as best we could. But so be it, the Senator is entitled to that.

So, Mr. President, as we conclude our conversation this afternoon, I want to be very clear. We oppose two of the Coburn amendments. I accept one that you will see down at the desk where I stand.

I had hoped we could avoid a cloture vote. Senator Shelby and I have worked hard on a bipartisan bill, and I once again acknowledge the Senator from Alabama, my Republican colleague. We have an excellent bill that funds not only the Commerce Department but the Justice Department, and now we are facing the threat of a filibuster by amendment after amendment. I had hoped we could have reached some kind of agreement on a limited number of amendments, but since we can't, it looks as if we

are going to have to go to cloture.

I think we have had a good discussion, and I want to reiterate the three goals of the Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee. No. 1, we want to promote the security of the American people. We want to do it over there and we want to do it here. That is why we fund the Justice Department. We also want to promote innovation, and we have vigorous funding for our science agencies and innovation from the government that will also be on the side of those innovators. No. 3, where we do agree with the

Senator from Oklahoma is on increased oversight, accountability, stewardship, and transparency.

Mr. President, I know we are about 5 minutes from the vote, so I will now reserve the remainder of my time.

Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

5:59 PM EDT

Harry Reid, D-NV

Mr. REID. Mr. President, in years past, appropriations bills were finished in a reasonably short period of time. There was cooperation between both sides. That, of course, has ended. We are now in an era where the President of the United States goes to a foreign country trying to bring the Olympics to the United States. And when the Olympics do not go to Chicago, our Republican colleagues cheer. If you can imagine that, that is what happened.

When the President is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, only the third time in the history of the country that a sitting President is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, we get the same dissatisfaction of this tremendous honor given to our country from our Republican colleagues.

As was written in the New York Times 1 week ago: The Republicans are legislating out of spite. Anything that slows things down, confuses, diverts from the business at hand, they are [Page: S10352]

happy to do that. There were 100 filibusters last year. And the American people should understand filibusters are more than just a word. It takes days and weeks of the Senate's time to work through that process.

We are going to get this bill passed, and we will complete the work on this appropriations bill--not because the Republicans deserve it, with their many earmarks in the bill. We are going to go ahead and do it anyway. We are going to do it because it is the right thing for the country.

There are many amendments that are germane. There are a number of amendments that were not germane postcloture. They would be considered. I told everyone that.

This is a game Republican Senators are playing. I think it is a very unfair game for the American people. I do hope the American people are watching, and they are. All you have to do is look at the LA Times. In Los Angeles this weekend, there was a front-page story indicating that the Republican Party, as a result of what is going on in the Senate, is at the lowest point in the history of the country for a political party. Why wouldn't they be?

We do have one brave soul who voted to get the bill out of the Finance Committee, and I appreciate her work. No cooperation on one of the most important issues facing the country in generations, health care reform. Do they have a plan? Of course not. It is the party of no, as indicated in this vote tonight.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

6:02 PM EDT

Mitch McConnell, R-KY

Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, on the vote just cast, as my friend well knows, we had worked on an amendment list not only last week but earlier today. We were down to what I thought was a manageable list. There is no one on this side of whom I am aware trying to prevent the Commerce-Justice-State bill from passing. So far this year we have had a very good amendment process. Members have been able to offer their amendments and get votes. I thought until about 5:15 this afternoon we

were going to be able to get an amendment list. It broke down somehow in the discussions. So I wouldn't make more out of this than it is. We were very close to being able to finish this bill.

I suggest we continue to work on the amendment list, which was quite reasonable, and wrap up the bill in the very near future.

6:03 PM EDT

Harry Reid, D-NV

Mr. REID. Madam President, I appreciate the suggestion of my Republican counterpart. But we are going to get cloture on this bill, and we will handle the germane amendments. We have legislated on this bill for 5 days. That should be enough. The list they think is reasonable, someone should take a look at it and see how unreasonable it is. We will go ahead. We will do the regular order. We will get cloture on this bill, and we will handle the germane amendments--maybe. We don't have to handle

the germane amendments. We don't have to deal with those. We might do that; we might not do it.

I think what has happened in the Senate is outrageous. I want to make sure the record is clear. I appreciate very much John McCain saying nice things about President Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize. Another person who says he is running for President also said nice things about President Obama getting that. That was Governor Pawlenty. Obviously, Governor Pawlenty knows the American people think it is wrong for someone who receives this high honor, for people not to pat him on the


What has gone on in the Senate is as indicated in the New York Times last month: they are legislating out of spite. We are going to continue to work for the betterment of this country and move forward on the agenda this country needs to work on. We have had a successful year legislating. It has been extremely difficult. We have had a lot of hurdles to go over.

I appreciate the legislation we have passed. We only recently got 60 votes. We have had 58, so we have always needed a couple Republicans. And we have been able to get those but just barely. I appreciate the scowls from the other side as they vote with us.

We have a lot of important things to do. We are going to continue working on them. Health care has taken a lot longer than we had anticipated, but we will take that over the finish line. It will be hard, but we are going to do that. I hope we can do it with some support from the Republicans. It appears at this stage that we are not going to get any, other than maybe a couple of courageous souls. Maybe we will get three if we are lucky.

We have to do something about energy, an important issue. We are going to deal with that. We have to do something about regulation reform.

It would be a lot better for the American people if Republican Senators worked with us. Take, for example, the health care bill from the HELP Committee. You would think, after having accepted scores and scores of Republican amendments, that some Republican would say a nice thing about that HELP bill. Not a word. Every single member of the Republican Party who is a member of the HELP Committee voted against the bill.

It is pretty clear what is happening around here. As I indicated--for the third time--Republicans are legislating out of spite, and that is not good for this country.

6:06 PM EDT

Mitch McConnell, R-KY

Mr. McCONNELL. With all due respect to my good friend, the majority leader, I don't know what the vote we just had had to do with the President winning a Nobel Peace Prize. I congratulate him for that. I think all Members are proud that he was able to achieve that. I don't know what it had to do with health care. What it had to do with is the Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill.

We had agreed to all of the amendments on a list but one. We said to the majority that we would eliminate the one. So I don't know why they can't take yes for an answer. We basically had an agreement on our amendment list but for one amendment which they objected to, and we said we would take it off the list. It strikes me rather than having a spirited debate about health care and other matters, we ought to agree to the amendment list and finish the bill.

6:07 PM EDT

Harry Reid, D-NV

Mr. REID. Madam President, Thursday we waited virtually all day--all day--for them to come up with a list. It was never quite right. Never quite right. I was here late Thursday night, very late Thursday night. Everyone else had gone home. But the Republicans refused to OK a list. So I had no alternative but to file a motion to invoke cloture. The agreement is in their minds only. We have been very generous in allowing amendments that have nothing to do with bills this whole year. We were still

willing to do that with this piece of legislation. This is part of a stall that we have had all year long, the stall all day Thursday. We had problems on Wednesday trying to come up with a list, and Thursday. Just never quite right.

Suddenly, today, we have a list. We are willing to drop an amendment. I don't know what amendment they are talking about dropping.

I have made my statement very clear. We have a pattern in the Senate by the Republicans that is abusive to the system. It is preventing the American people from getting work done. An example is this very important bill dealing with law enforcement--Commerce-Justice-State--FBI agents. Senator Mikulski has worked very hard. She is proud of this legislation. We are going to go ahead and get it done without the Republicans. We are going to go ahead and do it. Their earmarks are included.

We are not going to take away any of their earmarks because we believe in fairness.