Oklahoma Senators Against $4.5 Billion Ag Relief Bill

Tuesday, December 5th 2006, 2:45 pm
By: News On 6

Oklahoma farmers and ranchers say they need financial help now, but Senator Tom Coburn took the senate floor Tuesday to voice his opposition to an Agricultural disaster aid bill. Both Coburn and Senator Jim Inhofe agree the $4.5 billion dollar legislation is too expensive. They say this type of legislation is needed, but they don't like this particular bill. News on 6 anchor Jennifer Loren tells us why.

Many say this has been the third worst drought in US history, so adding disaster relief money to the Agricultural Spending Bill is expected. But Oklahoma Senators say the bill currently on the table, introduced by North Dakota's Kent Conrad, is fiscally irresponsible.

"We're just taking the good old politician credit card out and saying we don't have the guts to do it the right way, we don't have the stamina to do it, the courage to do it. By the way grandchildren, click, he you go. Back in 2006 we couldn't do the right thing; we didn't have the courage to do the right thing. We're charging it to you," said Senator Tom Coburn.

Coburn says the politicians for Conrad's bill are being wasteful. He says there are many places within the Federal budget to find the money they need. Plus, he argued on the floor that this bill would almost diminish the need for crop insurance, which he says is irresponsible. He also cited hundreds of earmarks in Conrad's bill that he says would not directly assist farmers or ranchers.

"If we're going to have earmarks lets take it from some place that's not going to undermine the very farmers that we say we're trying to help," Coburn said.

Meanwhile, Conrad says $4.5 to $5 billion is a responsible amount because there can be no budget for natural disasters. He says passing his bill would tell farmers and ranchers that hope and help is on the way.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill if it passes. Meanwhile, Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas has introduced a similar disaster relief bill that would cost a lesser $3.3 billion.