Congress’s plan to cut federal aid for anticrime projects while planning for space travel to Mars has been ridiculed by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) One of five senators to oppose the appropriations bill for the Justice, State and Commerce Departments, Coburn argued that sheriffs, police departments, drug courts, and drug rehabilitation programs need more federal aid. “In Oklahoma, we have had fantastic results with drug courts and drug rehabilitation,” Coburn told the Senate. “Eighty-one percent of the people who now come through these drug courts have a full-time job and never regress back to drugs.”
Citing some of the items that remained in the bill when anticrime funds were cut, Coburn mentioned $680 million for a program “to go to Mars” Said the senator: “I believe Mars should wait.” He also criticized $1.5 million designated to study migratory sharks, $825,000 to study Hawaiian monk seals, and $235,000 to study yellow-finned tuna. “It is time for us to reconsider our priorities,” Coburn said. The Oklahoman was in the vast minority on the spending bill, which had 94 favorable votes.