U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) said today, “In a time of war it is unconscionable for members of Congress to divert funds from vital operations to less-than-vital parochial pork projects. I regret the Senate voted today to protect their pet projects at the expense of our troops,” after the Senate rejected Coburn’s amendments that would have forced Congress to shift earmark funds back toward vital operations and maintenance for our troops rather than pork projects. The vote was 25 to 73, which rejected the restoration of $165 million earmarked within the Defense appropriations bill’s maintenance and operations accounts for congressional earmarks.
Publius writing for Big Government states:
The operations and maintenance (O&M) accounts ensure military readiness by providing much needed funds for training troops for combat and for maintaining tanks, airplanes, ships, and related equipment such as the purchase of spare parts. O&M accounts also fund a wide range of activities such as civilian personnel management and payments, transportation expenses, health care, and child care. In May 2009, the U.S. Navy ran out of O&M funding and had to reduce training hours for carrier air wings and at-sea time for some ships. The earmarks funded in the 2010 Defense appropriations bill raid these accounts that are essential to the protection of our troops and our nation’s defense to pay for $165 million or earmarks not requested by the military.
Are the American people paying attention to this? Our President has managed to gag his commander in the Afghan War, General Stanley McChrystal, and appears to be backing away from finishing this war successfully. He does not want to send the additional troops needed. And now the Senate does not want to support our brave men and women in the field and help them in their success. Our troops have been hog-tied through this war and not allowed to fight this war the way we know they can and now they will be hampered further. I am sure this does much to build the morale of our troops. We the People are sick to death of government waste and earmarks and now to have our military being passed over for those earmarks is infuriating!
Here is the breakdown of the Coburn amendments:
Amendment 2566 — To restore over $165 million in operations and maintenance funding to members of the Armed Forces to prepare for and conduct combat operations by prohibiting funding of earmarks from operations and maintenance accounts, defeated by a vote of 25 to 73.
Amendment 2565 — To require the National Guard and Reserve Component to submit their modernization priorities to the entire Congress, and seek input from Secretary of Defense Gates, defeated by a vote of 28 to 70.
Coburn amendments accepted:
Amendment 2563— To require all reports authorized in this bill be publicized and accessible to the public once completed.
Amendment number 2585 — To restore $100 million in operations and maintenance funding to members of the Armed Forces to prepare for and conduct combat operations by accounting for the August 2009 Congressional Budget Office economic assumptions and reducing funding for low-priority research and development earmarks.