Today, U.S. Senators DeMint (R-South Carolina), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) are introducing the Pay for Printing Act, which would require senators to pay for celebratory or commemorative resolutions out of their own budgets, rather than using taxpayer funds.
"The printing of symbolic, nonbinding resolutions has gotten out of hand and it's costing taxpayers more of their hard-earned dollars," DeMint said. "This bipartisan legislation simply requires senators to take responsibility for paying for the cost of printing these symbolic resolutions out of their own office budgets. This will require senators to be more judicious with taxpayer dollars and hopefully cut down on many of these unnecessary resolutions."
"Our bill is a common sense measure to remind all of us that if we can't responsibly pay for the small things, then how are we going to do the big things necessary to finally get spending under control in Washington," Corker said. "Members of Congress who introduce these commemorative resolutions should pay for them as a ceremonial function of their office, rather than adding them to the cost of government."
During the 112th Congress alone the Senate has passed or agreed to more than 350 simple resolutions and introduced over 100 more. The overwhelming majority of these resolutions are commemorative or celebratory in nature.
Examples of these resolutions in the last year include National Chess Day, National Day of the American Cowboy, commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Ducks Unlimited, National Safe Digging Month, Year of Water, National Work and Family Month, commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the American Podiatric Medical Association, congratulating the Miami Heat for their NBA championship, celebrating Pacific Lutheran University Lutes Softball Team, and commending Yellow Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing Bonding.
These resolutions incur printing costs of about $1,200 per page. So far in the 112th Congress, simple resolutions may have already cost taxpayers nearly $400,000 in printing costs alone.
According to the Legislative Information System of Congress, the number of simple resolutions has nearly doubled over the past decade. In 2001-2002, the Senate of the 107th Congress passed 247 simple resolutions. In 2009-2010, the Senate of the 111th Congress passed 493.
The Pay for Printing Act requires that the sponsor of a simple resolution -- which is commemorative or celebratory in nature -- pay for the printing costs of his or her resolution. This money shall come from the sponsor's Members' Representative Allowance (MRA).
The Pay for Printing Act allows for an exemption for those resolutions with more than two-thirds of the Senate as sponsors.