By Pete Kasperowicz
A bipartisan group of House members has proposed legislation that would force the government to close thousands of unused bank accounts it holds that are costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees.
The Closing Long-Empty Accounts Now (CLEAN) Act is meant to address a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that said the government was spending more than $2 million a year to maintain 28,000 empty bank accounts.
Recent press reports say more than 13,000 unused accounts still exist, which will cost nearly $1 million this year in service fees.
"Both parties can agree that there is no excuse for the government to squander millions of dollars maintaining empty federal bank accounts that serve no purpose," bill sponsor Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.) said. "No family or business would knowingly tolerate that type of waste and neither should the federal government. That's just common sense."
Her bill would require the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency to list unused government bank accounts and recommend which ones can be closed. Agencies in charge of accounts that are recommended to be closed would have a week to close them.
Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.), a cosponsor of the bill, said Tuesday that he supports the bill and will work on another to ensure that money saved would go toward reducing the budget deficit.
Other co-sponsors of the bill are Reps. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.).