Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Udall, Coburn, McCaskill and Paul Propose Senate Rules Change

Amendment Would Require Review of All Legislation for Duplication, Overlapping Programs

Today, Mark Udall co-sponsored an amendment, introduced by Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), that would require all legislation to be reviewed before it is considered by the Senate to prevent the creation of duplicative and overlapping government programs. Udall and Coburn were also joined by senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

In March, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report identifying hundreds of duplicative and overlapping programs costing approximately $217 billion a year. GAO stated “reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services.” GAO found 47 separate job training programs, 88 economic development programs, 82 teacher quality programs, and 56 financial literacy programs. Despite GAO’s findings, Congress has been slow to address this problem.

“Too often, it seems like Congress is so focused on creating new programs that we forget our job is supposed to include oversight and reform,” Mark Udall said. “That’s why our amendment to cut down on the number of wasteful and duplicative programs is crucial. It’s an important step that will help change the culture in Congress, cut down on waste and save taxpayers money.”

“Congress creates hundreds of new programs every year, adding to the thousands that already exist. Every time we create a new program that duplicates an existing program, taxpayers end up footing the bill for both programs. At a time when our $14 trillion debt has become our greatest national security threat, that is an absolute embarrassment. No family in America would handle their finances in such a haphazard and careless manner. Creating new programs may seem more politically popular than reviewing existing programs. Yet, I am convinced the American people are demanding the kind of common sense oversight and stewardship of their tax dollars this bill calls for. I’m pleased many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle agree,” Dr. Coburn said.

“Americans have made it clear that they want Washington to start living within its means and to take all the necessary steps to cut spending. At the very least, we can all agree that wasteful or duplicative government programs that cost money ought to be a good starting point on the long, hard road ahead. Preventing future duplications is just as important as getting rid of the redundancy that already exists,” Claire McCaskill said.

Specifically, this bipartisan amendment would require committee reports accompanying every bill to provide the following:

• An analysis by the Congressional Research Service to determine if the bill creates any new federal program, office, or initiative that would duplicate or overlap any existing federal program, office, or initiative with similar mission, purpose, goals, or activities along with a listing of all of the overlapping or duplicative federal program or programs, office or offices, or initiative or initiatives; and

• An explanation provided by the committee as to why the creation of each new program, office, or initiative is necessary if a similar program or programs, office or offices, or initiative or initiatives already exist.