Published December 09, 2010
A Republican senator on Thursday denounced the $18 billion in provisions added to a catchall spending bill to keep the government running through next year, saying they're a "Trojan horse to fund the new federal health care law."
The Senate will decide the fate of the $1.2 trillion budget bill that narrowly passed the House Wednesday night and would keep the government running through September of next year. But Senate Democrats are planning to add more money, including thousands of pet projects sought by lawmakers.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., noted that the Senate version would provide $19 million to the IRS for dictating health insurance under the new law; $6.25 billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for new health reform programs, and $210 million to the Health Resources and Services Administration for public health workforce programs.
"Using the end-of-the-year spending bill as a Trojan horse to fund the new federal health care law is hardly the mandate from the November elections," Coburn said in a written statement to FoxNews.com. "Yet this is what Congress is doing through the must-pass spending bill to fund government operations."
Coburn noted that the bill spends $12 million on an unelected panel of bureaucrats that Coburn says "will issue costly mandates, make coverage decisions for all Americans, and could deny patient choice under the guise of 'prevention.'"
Coburn called on lawmakers who campaigned this year on defunding the health care law to oppose the bill.
"We already know the health law isn't working," he said. "Members who supported it are guilty of misleading advertising. During the last six months we have seen health insurance premiums increase, not decrease, because the new law. It's time for Congress to extend current tax rates, pass a clean spending bill -- a 'continuing resolution' -- without extraneous and vague health care provisions, and go home."
Sen. Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, added the nearly $20 billion in provisions to the bill, backed by Democratic leaders.
A spokesman for Democrats on the Appropriations Committee could not immediately respond.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., opposes Inouye's move, but GOP members of the Appropriations Committee, such as Sens. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and George Voinovich of Ohio are open to the idea.
Coburn isn't the only one unhappy with the bill. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter to Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opposing a provision in the bill that prohibits the transfer of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility to the U.S. for civilian trials. Holder called the provision "extreme and risky encroachment on the authority of the Executive branch to determine when and where to prosecute terrorist suspects."
"It would therefore be unwise, and would set a dangerous precedent with serious implications for the impartial administration of justice, for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Executive branch to prosecute terrorists in these venues," he wrote. "The exercise of prosecutorial discretion has always been and must remain an Executive branch function."
The underlying House bill would provide the Pentagon $513 billion for core operations, which is a 1 percent increase to cover pay and health care, but $17 billion less than Obama requested in February.
The Homeland Security Department would see its budget frozen rather than rising almost 3 percent, as Obama sought.
Foreign aid programs, however, would receive a $2.2 billion -- more than 4 percent -- increase to fund counterinsurgency programs by the Pakistani government, help stabilize Iraq and meet long-standing commitments to Israel and Egypt.
The bill also contains $624 million to implement the nuclear weapons treaty with Russia, known as New START, that's pending before the Senate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.