The federal government made at least $125 billion in improper payments last year. It spends $25 billion annually maintaining unused or vacant federal properties. Rife with duplication, Washington runs 342 economic development programs, 130 programs serving the disabled, 130 programs serving at-risk youth, and 90 early childhood development programs.
Government waste runs rampant, yet Congress never seems focused on cleaning it up. A new bipartisan proposal sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R–UT) and Mark Udall (D–CO) and Representative Jeff Duncan (R–SC) would force Congress to address this problem.
The bill would create a new congressional committee that exists only to cut government waste. Modeled after the successful “Byrd Committee” that cut domestic spending in the 1940s to help finance World War II, this new committee would regularly produce legislation to eliminate government waste. These waste reduction bills would be given “fast track” authority, guaranteeing a congressional vote that cannot be filibustered.
Given that nearly all congressional committees make it a priority to protect their turf from any spending cuts—including even blatant government waste—having a committee focused only on spending reductions would provide an important counterbalance to business-as-usual government spending. Cutting waste alone isn’t going to balance the budget, yet every dollar saved in wasteful spending translates into one fewer dollar that needs to be cut from higher-priority programs. This proposal would help Congress pick that low-hanging fruit.