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Cochran urges peers to be cautious

WASHINGTON — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, yesterday cautioned the Senate about creating new programs, whether for healthcare, climate change or education, that are funded through automatic mandatory spending.

In a speech to the Senate, Cochran addressed congressional spending practices, and stressed that the Congress could better control future spending by relying on the annual congressional appropriations process rather than putting more funding on “autopilot.” He delivered the speech on the eve of Senate debate on a healthcare reform package that will create new mandatory spending programs.

“Given our nation’s fiscal situation, it seems to me that we should strongly favor a procedure that requires Congress to consider programmatic spending every year,” Cochran said. “This is not a question of which committee has the power over the purse. It is a question of whether Congress will maintain the power over the purse, and deliberately exercise it.

“Once a funding stream is made mandatory, it is extremely difficult to reduce or cut off the spending, or to use the leverage of future funding to motivate more efficient management of federal programs and activities.”

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