McCain, Coburn detail problems in spending bill

The two senators on Tuesday blocked the Senate from proceeding to debate on the bill which would prevent a government shutdown and keep agencies funded through the fiscal year.

McCain and Coburn said they had not been given enough time to read the 500-page legislation and had already found "pork barrel spending" in the bill.

They indicated that once they have finished reading the bill they will prepare amendments to remove the spending.

The bipartisan bill was negotiated between Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the heads of the Appropriations Committee.

It is an amended version of the government funding bill that passed the House this month. The bill contains full detailed appropriations for the Pentagon, which has warned it will face a critical shortfall if the bill is not passed. 

From McCain's office, here below is what they say is a partial list of waste in the bill, which must pass by March 27 if the government is to remain open. 

-- Provides $65 million for Pacific Coast salmon restoration for states including Nevada, a program that even President Obama mocked in his 2011 State of the Union address.

-- Directs the Department of Defense to overpay on contracts by an additional 5 percent (totaling $15 million) to contractors who are Native Hawaiian-owned companies.

-- Provides $154 million for Army, Navy and Air Force "alternative energy research" initiatives, the most recent notorious example of which was paying $26 per gallon for 450,000 gallons of alternative fuel.

-- Provides $15 million for the Civil Air Patrol above the amount authorized by the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization bill, paid for by cutting the Air Force’s Operations and Maintenance funding. This is just two days after the Air Force announced that it will reduce pilots’ flying hours by 18 percent because of cuts to its Operations and Maintenance budget.

-- Prohibits the retirement of the C-23 Sherpa aircraft, which the Army has asked to retire and which both the Army and Air Force no longer want or need. Last year, Congress granted the Army authority to give these aircraft to any state governor who wanted them and no one took them up on it, now we are preventing the Army from retiring them.

-- Directly contravenes the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization bill by providing $120 million for civilian infrastructure in Guam, which both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees explicitly prohibited until a sufficient cost analysis of the proposed movement of troops from Okinawa to Guam is completed.

-- Provides $14.7 million for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Watershed Rehabilitation Program, which the Administration has suggested eliminating for years.

-- Provides $993,000 in grants to dig private wells for private property owners.

-- Provides $10 million for the USDA High Energy Cost Grants program that go to subsidize electricity bills in Alaska and Hawaii.

-- Provides $5.9 million for USDA "Economic Impact Initiative" grants, which have become slush funds for local governments to do such things as rehab an exercise room and buy kitchen equipment for city government offices.