Sen. Peters proposes bills to cut government waste

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Sens. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, and Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, unveiled bills Tuesday aimed at cutting waste and eliminating duplicate federal programs from the $2 trillion annual U.S. budget.

One proposal, called the COST Savings Resolution, would require congressional committees to hold oversight hearings on the Government Accountability Office’s annual report on ways to reduce overlap and duplication in the federal government.

The bill directs Congress to take into account “recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of government programs and eliminate unnecessary costs caused by duplicative federal programs, as well as vulnerabilities for waste, fraud, and abuse and the need for transformation of government programs.”

The other proposal, called the Expedited Consideration of Cuts, Consolidations and Savings Act of 2015, would require Congress to vote on deficit reduction recommendations from the Cuts, Consolidations and Savings report — part of the president’s annual budget that includes recommendations to reduce the deficit.

The Cuts, Consolidations and Savings report for fiscal year 2016 identifies more than $14 billion in possible cuts and reductions in federal spending — less than 1 percent of total annual spending.

Congress typically ignores most proposed program cuts. Congress and agencies are often reluctant to eliminate specific programs after they are created — and special interest groups heavily lobby Congress to keep programs in the budget year after year.

“As Congress begins debate on a budget for the next fiscal year, we need to consider all the options to reduce our deficit,” Peters said. “This legislation will help hold Washington responsible for unnecessary spending and provide clear opportunities to cut waste and make government work better for taxpayers.”

The pair cited the 2014 annual report from government auditors that identified 26 areas across the federal government where Congress could cut repetitive programs and improve effectiveness, as well as 15 areas where Congress could reduce the cost of operations. One area cited by the pair is the fact that multiple U.S. agencies in charge of inspecting catfish for human consumption.

“Finding ways to cut costs and save taxpayers money is an area where members of both parties can find common ground, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to reduce wasteful spending,” Peters said.

GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro told Peters at a hearing last month that “there is much more Congress could and should do.” Dodaro recommended holding joint committee hearings when there are issues that span multiple committees’ jurisdictions and encouraged Congress to create a formal review process for GAO recommendations, both of which are included in the legislation.