Oversight and Government Reform
As your Senator, I take very seriously my role in conducting government oversight – including the review of burdensome “red tape” regulations, monitoring consumer protection rights in the private sector, and regularly supervising executive branch agencies as laws are implemented.
Some outdated federal regulations or programs exist simply because they haven’t been properly reviewed. To help fix that, I’ve introduced legislation to identify and target wasteful and underperforming federal government programs that should be cut or eliminated. This bill, S.Res.30, which I introduced with my Republican colleague Senator Pat Roberts, would create the bipartisan Committee to Reduce Government Waste. This 12-member committee would submit a report to the Senate at least once a year recommending cuts to government programs, which would then receive expedited consideration in the Senate.
But I think we can do more still. Many Coloradans have told me about their experiences and concerns with government programs or processes that just aren’t working. I want to hear more about how we can root out these problems and make government perform better for you. Is your small business weighed down by an unfair mandate? Do you feel consumers are being taken advantage of by a particular organization? If you’re a federal employee, are there improvements we should make to save taxpayer dollars, or to simply help you better do your job?
Your input is important to me, and I want to use your expertise and on-the-ground knowledge. Don’t hesitate to contact me at any time with your ideas for improvement. My staff is here to assist you, and together we’ll carefully review each suggestion you make.
A stagnant government is a weak government. Congress should be an agile body that’s not afraid of reform. We must create those pathways to successful enterprise before we find ourselves with more outdated rules and bureaucracies – and ultimately lagging behind other countries in the global economic race.
In a major victory for Colorado and the nation's air travelers, both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan deal I led with Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), to provide the Secretary of Transportation the flexibility to avoid further furloughs of essential employees at the Federal Aviation Administration. The indiscriminate, automatic budget cuts of sequestration not only threatened the convenience of the traveling public, but also created an unacceptable and avoidable drag on our resurgent economy. We need to reduce the federal budget deficit and cut federal spending, but we should not allow the blunt cuts of sequestration to cripple travel, tourism, business and commerce — all critical parts of our ongoing economic recovery. President Obama signed the bill into law May 1, 2013.
Since my days in the U.S. House of Representatives, I have consistently sought creative and common-sense fiscal policies to cut excessive government spending, because I believe controlling deficit spending is one of the greatest national security threats facing our country. With this in mind, I was pleased to join Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Tom Carper(D-DE) and Dan Coats (R-IN) in introducing the bipartisan Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act (S.102), which would give the president line-item veto authority to reduce wasteful spending. A presidential line-item veto is a practical mechanism to reduce our growing deficit, get our nation’s fiscal house back in order and put an end to wasteful spending. With the recent passage of similar legislation in the House of Representatives, we are fighting to bring this proposal to a vote on the Senate floor.
As a member of the U.S. Senate, I take very seriously my role in conducting oversight to ensure that the federal government is more accountable and efficient. But I know that Congress must take a look at itself as well. Congressional committees often focus too much on creating new problems and regulations, while slighting an equally important role of the legislative branch: overseeing and reforming laws that already exist. With this in mind, I was proud to join Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) in introducing an amendment to require that the Congressional Research Services report on any duplication created by proposed legislation before the Senate votes on it. Where duplication exists, the committee would be required to justify for members of the Senate why the duplication is necessary.
During the 112th Congress, I was also proud to introduce bipartisan legislation with my colleague, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), to establish a Committee to Reduce Government Waste (S.Res.93), which would be charged with identifying and targeting wasteful and underperforming federal government programs for elimination.
I urged Senate leadership to quickly confirm Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau so that the agency can begin the important work of protecting consumers against deceptive, misleading and unfair business practices. During debate of the Wall Street Reform legislation in 2010, I successfully fought to give millions of Americans free access to their credit scores, but until the Senate confirms a director for the CFPB, the new consumer watchdog will be powerless to further protect against companies that market and sell their often faulty credit score-related products, including those on misleading websites like www.freescore.com and www.freecreditscore.com. In these tough economic times, we need to ensure the CFPB is doing all it can to shield consumers against financial traps and deceptive advertisements that can lock Americans into pricey subscriptions and other credit score-related services unknowingly.
Most government programs are created with good intentions, but in too many cases, Congress creates new programs that are redundant and sometimes wasteful rather than strategically targeting resources where they are needed. Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report outlining billions of dollars that could be saved by eliminating duplicative government programs. For instance, the GAO found the federal government has 80 economic-development programs, 44 employment and training programs and five agencies within the Department of Transportation that operate 100 surface-transportation programs. There has to be a better way of doing business, and I believe Congress has a responsibility to look back and do away with old, inefficient programs. In fact, I believe we need to resurrect the "un-authorizing" committee that was created to address our deficits and debt after World War II, and begin to streamline the government, pare down our national budget, save taxpayers' dollars, and strengthen the private economy by making sure the government is as lean as ever.
I was proud to introduce legislation, along with my colleague Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), to establish such a committee (S.Res.93). Our proposed Committee to Reduce Government Waste would be charged with identifying and targeting wasteful and underperforming federal government programs for elimination. The bipartisan committee would have 12 members, four from each of the Senate Finance, Appropriations and Budget committees. It would submit a report to the Senate at least once a year that identified underperforming and wasteful government programs in need of cuts or elimination, and its recommendations would receive expedited consideration in the Senate.
The World War II-era Committee saved more than $38 billion in present dollars over just three years just by reducing wasteful spending. It is time to reconstitute this common-sense idea to bring more fiscal accountability to Washington and much-needed relief to taxpayers.