By Pete Kasperowicz
A Florida GOP lawmaker wants to cut federal agency travel budgets in half in response to the GSA scandal.
Freshman Rep. Dennis Ross on Monday introduced legislation to slash federal agency travel budgets by 50 percent for the next two fiscal years. Ross said the significant cuts were necessary after revelations of lavish spending by a branch of the General Services Administration.
Details about the GSA spending, which included pricey sushi dinners and wines, has led to the resignation of senior GSA officials amid an ongoing congressional probe.
"The GSA Vegas vacation is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wasteful spending," Ross said Tuesday morning. "In a day and age when you can FaceTime from Beijing to Washington, text and call from one end of the globe to another, and the American taxpayer faces trillion-dollar deficits, spending $15 billion a year on travel is a luxury that is both no longer necessary and no longer affordable."
Under Ross's Government Spending Accountability Act, federal travel budgets would be cut in half for fiscal 2013 and 2014 compared to 2012 levels. In 2015, those budgets would be cut by 75 percent of 2012 levels.
The bill, H.R. 4472, would also require every agency to submit reports on their travel budgets to Congress starting in fiscal 2014.
Ross said his bill builds on a report from the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission, which found that despite new communications technology, federal travel costs grew 56 percent between 2001 and 2006.
"The American taxpayer has had enough, and before we start talking about raising or changing taxes, we need to go over the federal budget piece by piece and put an end to duplicative, wasteful or downright stupid spending," Ross said. "Zero based budgeting, biennial budgeting, sunset committees, pension reform and so much more is needed now. This is a start worth tens of billions over 10 years. This is a no-brainer."