Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan, Blue Dog-endorsed bill that could save taxpayers $125 billion annually by helping to eliminate improper payments, among other provisions. H.R. 4053, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act (IPERIA), will better identify, prevent and recover payment error, waste, fraud and abuse within federal spending.
The bill, which unanimously passed the House on a vote of 402 to 0, was endorsed by the fiscally conservative, Democratic Blue Dog Coalition in February and 18 of the bill's 20 cosponsors are Blue Dogs. The legislation was introduced and championed by Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Fiscal Responsibility, along with Reps. Edolphus "Ed" Towns, D-N.Y., and Todd Platts, R-Pa.
"This is one of many commonsense, good government steps we can take in Congress to get our debt and deficits under control," said Schrader. "I have been working on this bill for a long time and am pleased to see it pass with such strong bipartisan support. We, as a body, need to continue to hammer away at those that are defrauding taxpayers, and we must continue to strengthen our recovery and get our economy humming again."
According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), federal agencies reported an estimated $125.4 billion in improper payments in FY2010. Among many other provisions, this new bill will help federal agencies cut down on wasteful spending by creating a government-wide Do Not Pay List to block improper payments before they go out and to stop payments to deceased individuals, such as for Social Security.
"This bill shows that when you take politics out of the equation, good policy will always win the day," said Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications. "The Blue Dogs have long fought to rid our government of waste, fraud and abuse and this bill is another achievement in our efforts. Throughout this Congress and the next, the Blue Dogs remain committed to putting policy over politics and we will continue to be the fiscal conscience of the House -- a role we have played since 1995."
"The Blue Dog Coalition is working to bring fiscal responsibility back to the federal government," said Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., Blue Dog Co-Chair for Policy. "That starts by ensuring responsible management of taxpayer resources. This bill is a step in the right direction, and is exactly the type of bipartisan, commonsense legislation Congress should consider down the road."
This legislation builds on a similar improper payments law passed last year, the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010, which was part of the Blue Dogs' Blueprint for Fiscal Reform -- a 15-point plan to balance the budget and lay the groundwork for sound fiscal policies over the long term.