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An Open Letter in strong support of H. Res. 307, which would create the “Reduction of Nonessential Federal Expenditures Committee.”

July 5, 2011

The Honorable Charles F. Bass
United States House of Representatives
2350 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Bass,

On behalf of the 362,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write in strong support of H. Res. 307, which would create the “Reduction of Nonessential Federal Expenditures Committee.” This “un-appropriations” panel would have as its sole focus eliminating waste, inefficiency, and duplication in the federal budget. Washington’s $1.65 trillion overspending problem attests to the urgency of your legislation.

This idea has been successfully implemented in the past. The late Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. (I-VA), who was a close advisor to NTU, first created the Joint Committee on the Reduction of Nonessential Federal Expenditures in 1941. Over the next 33 years, the so-called “Byrd Committee” was vital in finding, studying, and eliminating government waste in order to strengthen federal finances. In its first four years of existence alone the Byrd Committee’s recommendations directly saved the government nearly $2.5 billion while requiring only $46,000 in funding.

A new Byrd Committee would suffer no shortage of ideas. For example, NTU, working in conjunction with the liberal-leaning U.S. Public Interest Research Group, released a report late last year called “Toward Common Ground” with a list of more than 30 specific policy recommendations that would save taxpayers over $600 billion by 2015. The reductions we identified represent the “low hanging fruit” of wasteful spending that could be reduced or eliminated immediately. In addition, a recent report from the Government Accountability Office found 34 areas of the federal government where “duplication, overlap, or fragmentation” may be costing taxpayers as much as $100 billion annually. In addition to cost savings, Comptroller General Gene Dodaro noted that eliminating waste could “help agencies provide more efficient and effective services.”

Congress already has more than 40 standing committees whose job it is to spend taxpayer dollars. The time has come to establish one whose job it is to save taxpayer dollars. The ability to cut spending while simultaneously improving how government functions represents a winning formula for taxpayers. At a time when Americans are being forced to scour their budgets in search of ways to save money, our government has a duty to operate under the same realities. Thus, we encourage all House Members to work toward passage of H. Res. 307, which will help provide the tools necessary to begin solving our government’s overspending problem.

Brandon Greife
Federal Government Affairs Manager