House Dems propose legislative branch cost-cutting measures

Democratic members of the Committee on House Administration are recommending cost-saving initiatives to reduce spending within the legislative branch while maintaining government operations.

In a letter sent Wednesday to co-chairmen of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, House Administration Committee members Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Robert Brady (D-Pa.) and Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) outlined their suggestions to help reduce the deficit.

“At present, annual outlays for the Legislative branch total roughly $5 billion,” according to the letter addressed to Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “Misguided cuts can increase spending, but careful scrutiny of the programs under our jurisdiction have revealed potential opportunities for additional savings.”

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The first of the House Administration Committee Democrats’ four suggestions included reining in energy costs in legislative branch buildings.

“Legislative branch agencies can adopt simple and effective energy policies, such as adjusting corridor lighting levels and ambient temperatures overnight,” according to a committee statement issued Thursday.

The measures are modeled on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) “Green the Capitol” initiative, which she implemented as Speaker. But Republicans dismantled it after gaining control of the House.

The committee Democrats also recommend the expanded use of telecommunications technology to more affordably and effectively communicate with constituents.

“The House has already saved millions through centralizing technology costs and adopting new rules to accommodate technological advances,” according to Thursday’s statement.

“Savings from House improvements could net nearly $35 million dollars over ten years,” the statement continued. “Extending these common sense improvements across the Legislative branch will dramatically increase the savings for taxpayers.”

Thirdly, the Democrats suggested reforming the copyright application process at the Library of Congress, one of a handful of legislative branch agencies that generate receipts.

“Examining the fees paid by applicants could alleviate appropriations for the office,” according to the statement. “Properly reinvested, the Copyright Office will be able to speed up and streamline their process and clear the existing backlog reducing a regulatory burden for innovators looking to grow our economy.”

Lastly, the committee Democrats suggested cutting printing costs throughout the federal government by consolidating executive agency printing at the Government Printing Office.

A review of executive agencies’ internal printing and printing-procurement practices — undertaken by the Office of Management and Budget — could lead OMB to recommend closing down unnecessary printing plants and send that work to the GPO, according to the letter.

“Such a move could save millions in unnecessary duplicate work and millions more in equipment and associated costs,” according to the committee’s statement.

The House Democrats pledged their committee’s ongoing support in working with the legislative branch to seek out efficiencies in the future.

“Our committee stands ready to work with you and any others interested in saving money in the Legislative branch agencies within our jurisdiction,” the letter concluded.