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Cornyn highlights “missed priorities” in Omnibus

Backs amendments to restore funding cuts to key military, energy and education programs

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

February 21, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn picture WASHINGTON—Building on his efforts this month to restore $3.1 billion in funding for the U.S. military, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, announced Feb. 13 that he has filed two amendments to H.J. Res. 20, the Omnibus Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2007, that will restore critical funding needed for the Department of Energy’s FutureGen Program and the U.S. Marshals Service. As with the $3.1 billion in military funding cuts that Sen. Cornyn is seeking to restore, millions of dollars for these important energy and security programs were cut when congressional Democrats drafted the $461 billion omnibus bill behind closed doors without any Republican input.

Noting, however, that the Senate Democrat Leader is expected to deny consideration of any amendments to the omnibus, Sen. Cornyn said these and other amendments highlight the missed opportunities and negative impact that this bill will have on a range of important initiatives. “Supporting our troops, lessening our dependence on foreign energy, and strengthening security here at home should be among the very highest priorities of the Congress. Yet, under this Democrat-drafted appropriations bill those three priorities will be stripped of critical funds and Republicans are being denied any opportunity to restore them. That is deeply disappointing and it represents a serious departure from the rhetoric we heard from Democrats when they took control of Congress last month,” Sen. Cornyn said today.

Sen. Cornyn has joined U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and others in offering an amendment that would restore this $3.1 billion in proposed cuts to the military, which would particularly harm military bases in Texas. The amendment proposes a .73 percent cut across the board for all federal spending except for defense, Veterans and homeland security funding. Sen. Cornyn continues working with his colleagues to push the measure through.

Among the programs where Sen. Cornyn is also seeking to restore funding, with budget offsets, is the FutureGen program which will see a $36 million budget cut under this legislation. FutureGen would research and develop cutting-edge technologies to build a zero-emission coal burning electric generation plant which would be a tremendous step forward in America ’s effort to strengthen its domestic energy supply and address air quality. “If successful, FutureGen technologies could help lower energy costs, increase domestic energy resources and eliminate sources of harmful pollutants. Yet, this omnibus appropriations bill pulls the carpet from under a program that seeks to address all of these needs,” Sen. Cornyn said.

Sen. Cornyn also introduced an amendment to restore $18 million to the U.S. Marshals Service, matching the President’s request of $826 million. “The protection of our federal judges by the U.S. Marshals is one of the most important, and perhaps least recognized, assignments in American law enforcement. It is important that we restore cuts that this bill makes to those who are on the front line when it comes to law enforcement and protecting the judiciary,” Sen. Cornyn said.

Finally, Sen. Cornyn noted that this legislation guts funding for the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) program to just $200,000 – well below the President’s request and the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Committee recommendation of $99 million. Sen. Cornyn is cosponsoring an amendment offered by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to require TIF to be funded at $99 million. The Teacher Incentive Fund provides grants to encourage school districts and States to develop and implement innovative performance-based compensation systems that reward teachers and principals for raising student achievement and for taking positions in high-need schools. This amendment will restore $30 million of education funding to projects in Houston and Dallas.

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee.

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