Since the Republicans regained the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2011 we have made it clear that the federal government must do more with less in order to address our dangerous deficits and debt. Since we ask this of other departments and agencies, we think it’s only fair that we walk the talk, too.
It was reported Thursday that House Republicans are on track to save taxpayers $405 million in the first three years of its control of the House. $58 million of the savings came in fiscal year (FY) 2011, $143 million in FY 2012, and $205 million in FY 2013. As part of the headline of the news read, this is “$400 million — and counting.”
The cuts are from a variety of sources, including House committees, leadership offices, and the “Members Representational Allowances” (MRAs) - the funds available to individual lawmakers like me. MRAs are the accounts that go toward paying staff and funding all office expenses including rents, travel, postage, and utilities. They have been reduced by about one-fifth since Republicans assumed the majority - an almost 20% cut in real dollars over the past three years.
Just like hardworking Iowa families, small businesses and farms have had to tighten their budgets throughout the weakened economy, House members are being forced to be mindful of the need to control expenses wherever possible.
What should serve as a lesson to all of official Washington is that the House has been able to sustain and even improve many of its core functions amid the spending restraint.
We have been able to enhance security and support the brave men and women of the Capitol Police force, who help protect not only government employees but Iowans who wish to visit the Capitol grounds. We have also implemented open government initiatives to make the House of Representatives’ activity more transparent to taxpayers.
And unlike the White House, the legislative branch’s chief workplace — the Capitol, the people's house — remains open to the public for tours.
When it comes to spending, I fully support holding my office and the House of Representatives to the same standard that we hold other parts of the federal government to — and that Americans all across the country hold themselves to in economically difficult times. It would be unjust for us to insulate ourselves from the fiscal problems that the rest of this country faces. We share in them, too.
In 2010, House Republicans pledged to “make Congress do more with less by significantly reducing its budget.” We’re off to a good start, but by no means do we intend to stop here.