Axne, Bipartisan Group Introduce Bill to Curb Frivolous Gov't Spending

February 14, 2019
Press Release
Efficiency expert Axne continues to push for government accountability and transparency with Reining In Irresponsible Decorating Expenses Act

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA-03) joined Cheri Bustos (D-IL-17), Mark Meadows (R-NC-11) and 15 Members of Congress in introducing the bipartisan Reining in Irresponsible Decorating Expenses (RIIDE) Act, legislation to rein in excessive and frivolous government spending. This legislation would save taxpayer dollars, bring much-needed transparency in when it comes to federal agency heads’ excessive spending and create real consequences for officials who break the rules.

“Having spent a decade at the State of Iowa improving services while saving taxpayer dollars, I know how to root out waste, fraud and abuse. When it comes to decorating offices and suites, high-ranking government officials should not have a blank check. Iowans deserve to know their hard earned tax dollars are being used to benefit the public good, not to decorate an office,” said Rep. Axne.

Under this legislation, cabinet secretaries and agency heads will be required to notify Congress and justify expenses of $5,000 or more in taxpayer funds used for office renovations and furniture. The RIIDE Act would require these officials to report to Congress on the performance of their respective agency, including up-to-date information on grant backlogs, staffing levels, and other benchmarks when they request office renovations. Lastly, this bill would create consequences for those who fail to comply—meaning a failure to report such expenses requires the official to pay back the taxpayers with interest.

“Iowans are fed up with footing the bill of Washington greed. This bipartisan legislation is a step in the right direction towards rooting out waste, but we have more work to do. I will continue to serve as a steward of taxpayer dollars and a champion of government transparency and accountability,” Rep. Axne added.

Recently, Cabinet officials have come under heightened scrutiny after reports of lavish redecorating expenses on the taxpayer’s dime. Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt spent nearly $43,000 on a sound-proof phone booth, violating federal spending laws. Additionally, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson spent more than $31,000 of taxpayer money on a new dining set. The RIIDE Act would crack down on these purchases and increase transparency for hardworking taxpayers.

“This legislation would provide much needed spending transparency, helping to prevent future missteps by agency heads that rightfully call into question their ability to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Peter Tyler, Senior Policy Analyst at the Project on Government Oversight. “It also correctly prioritizes accountability over high-priced office furniture.”

“The RIIDE Act is a critical common-sense reform that would ensure public officials do not abuse the public trust,” said Tom Schatz, President of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste. “Instead of measuring their taxpayer-funded drapes, Washington politicians should be focused on fiscal responsibility for themselves and the nation.”

On January 17th, the House passed Congresswoman Axne’s bipartisan Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency (GREAT) Act of 2019. This legislation would streamline the outdated and burdensome federal grant process, making it easier and cheaper for Iowans to apply for grants and allowing taxpayers to better track government spending.

From 2005 to 2014, Representative Axne worked for the State of Iowa, helping over twenty different state agencies deliver government services more effectively and efficiently for taxpayers. An expert of government efficiency and accountability, Axne directed initiatives to root out waste, fraud and abuse in order to save Iowa taxpayers tens of million dollars, without cutting services.

Other original cosponsors of the RIIDE Act include Representatives Jim Cooper (TN-05), Max Rose (NY-11), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), Josh Harder (CA-10), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Susan Wild (PA-07), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Lucy McBath (GA-06), Sean Casten (IL-06), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Susie Lee (NV-03), Greg Stanton (AZ-09), Sharice Davids (KS-03), Katie Hill (CA-25), Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02), Angie Craig (MN-02), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) and Jason Crow (CO-06).