Senate Votes to Increase Office Spending on Fifth Day of Sequester
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Paul today introduced an amendment to S. Res. 64 that would strike funding for an annual $700,000 slush fund that allocates additional staff funding to nine Member and Leadership offices under the guise of the Senate National Security Working Group. The Working Group was created in 1985 to provide the Senate with observers to treaty negotiations between the Soviet Union and the U.S. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Working Group was extended, yet there is little evidence of any work done by the group. In fact, there is no record of this group meeting within the last three years.
In the wake of sequestration, this amendment would save up to $2.8 million over a four year period. Special treatment should not be given to nine Senate Offices when the rest of the federal government is facing sequester cuts. It is time for our elected officials to lead by example and stop spending as though we have possession of a credit card that we don't have to pay for.
The amendment failed passage with a bipartisan vote of 44-53.
Prior to the vote, Sen. Paul took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to vote in favor of striking the funding for the Senate National Security Working Group.
As some of you may have heard, we're a bit short of money. We're borrowing $50,000 every second. We borrow over $4 billion every day. In a year's time, we borrow over $1 trillion. There are ramifications to that. Some economists now say the burden of our debt is costing us a million jobs a year. What I'm asking is in the midst of this sequester, when people say we have no money to cut, to take this small item.
Now why would I want to cut this small group? A couple of reasons. It's called the national security working group. It's about $2.8 million, not much money in terms of Washington, but why would I want to cut it? Well, the first reason would be there are no records of them meeting. We heard about the start treaty. That was in 2009 when they were last meeting. There are no public records that this group that spent $700,000 a year has met in the last three years.
There are no public records of who works for the committee. There are no public records of their salaries. Everyone on my staff's name and salary is printed in the public record. Not for this group. They say we need this group to negotiate treaties. We have a group. It's called the Foreign Relations Committee. I'm on the Foreign Relations Committee, and that's where we discuss treaties. Or at least we're supposed to. The Foreign Relations Committee has dozens of employees, millions of dollars spent on our committee. It goes through the regular process. Our staff salaries are approved, the names are in the public record. And if you object, you know where to look for the information.
To fund a group that has no records and no records of them meeting and doesn't tell you where they're paying the salaries, I think doesn't make any sense. Our job is to look at the money as if it were ours, as if it were yours and pay attention to detail. Will this balance the budget? No. But is it a place we should start? Yes. Absolutely what I would call for is that we look and save where we can save.
In my office, I have a $3.5 million budget. I saved $600,000 last year and I turned it back into the Treasury. It doesn't balance the budget but we've got to start somewhere. This is another $700,000. If I win this one vote, I could save you $700,000, or at least save you from borrowing another $700,000. If all of your elected officials were up here doing the same, we would be much closer to a resolution.
I turned in $600,000 to the Treasury, 18 percent of my budget and I didn't lay off anybody, because we're careful about the way we spend it. We spend it as if it were our own money. If all your public officials were doing that, imagine what we could do.
I have another bill, which will never see the light of day up here because they don't want to fix anything, I have another bill that would give bonuses to civil servants, federal employees who find savings. Right now we do the opposite. If your budget is $12 million and you work somewhere in the bureaucracy of government, you want to spend it at the end of the year so you can get it the next year. I would change that incentive. I would give that civil servant a significant bonus if they'll keep money at the end of the year and turn it back in to the Treasury. Can you imagine the savings from top to bottom throughout government if we did that? But if we're to do that, to ask civil servants to do that and look for these savings, and right now with the sequester people are throughout government are looking for savings, why shouldn't we start with the senate?
Why would we continue to fund a group where the work they're supposedly doing is also done officially by another group, which has many employees, a large staff, and it is their constitutional mandate on the Foreign Relations Committee to discuss treaties? So while this is a small bit of money, it's symbolic of the need, symbolic of the need of what needs to go on in this country in order to rectify a problem that is really truly bankrupting the American people.