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Coburn's NO e-gov vote


The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee recently approved the renewal of the E-Government Act on to the full Senate. [FCW.com.. SHSGAC release] The bill would extend the 2002 bill and tinker with a few provisions. After all, a few things have changed since 2002.

Interestingly, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), who I think is very impressive,  voted against the E-Gov act reauthorization. He was the token no vote on the staff. I know OMB folks were not all that thrilled with the no vote. So...I asked.

The short answer: It isn't a no on e-gov. There are some fiscal provisions that Coburn thinks are just wrong.

Here is what one Republican staffer told me:


His vote at the markup does not actually reflect his view of the generally, which he supports.  One of his primary agenda items has been about opening up government and making it more transparent through the Internet.  This bill obviously does a lot of good in that area and is something he wants to see passed largely intact in the near future.

You won’t be too shocked to hear that his concern is largely a fiscal one.  The bill reauthorizes about $300 million in spending, but doesn’t provide any kind of offset.  Sen. Coburn’s views on authorizations is that they are a license for the government to grab power for itself in all kinds of areas, and so they should be kept in check.  We have a situation right now where the government is actually authorized to do about 3-4 times what it actually does.  In his view, the only thing keeping the government from throwing its weight around more is that it doesn’t spend more, but it’s certainly not for lack of legal authority.  To keep authorizations (and therefore the power of government) in check, we like to negotiate decreased authorizations whenever we create authorizations. 


In the case of the e-Gov bill, even though it’s a reauthorization, since it would have expired it’s technically no different than a new authorization and so we’d like to offset its cost.  Right now Sen. Lieberman’s bill also authorizes most of the programs through a “such sums as needed” authorization, which we plan on replacing with actually authorization lines – then offsetting them.


So now you know.

Posted on Nov 18, 2007 at 12:17 PM


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