GSA hearings should focus on spending, not location

This week, Congress is holding hearings on wasteful government spending at the General Services Administration (GSA). There is no question the GSA’s misuse of taxpayer dollars demonstrated a complete lack of common sense, and we should applaud President Obama and his administration for taking swift action to hold those responsible accountable. However, some members of Congress have wrongly focused their outrage at Las Vegas. These hearings are not about Las Vegas or where people choose to hold conventions and meetings.  

Las Vegas is one of the most affordable cities in which to hold a convention. Simply put, Las Vegas provides tremendous value, so it’s easy to see why businesses and government agencies choose the city for their events. In 2011, Las Vegas offered the second cheapest nightly rate in the United States, at $105 per night, and with more than 10.6 million square feet of meeting and convention space — more than any other destination — Las Vegas hosted more than 19,000 meetings and conventions. 

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The heart of the issue is the need to spend taxpayer dollars wisely and to ensure that proper internal controls are in place at every federal agency to prevent wasteful spending. I ask my colleagues to remember the importance of business meetings — not only to Nevada but also to your state while conducting these important hearings.

From Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Washington, D.C.

Sherman, Berman only push Armenian interests

California Rep. Brad Sherman’s logic is hard to understand (“Stakes rise in primary fight between Democratic Reps. Sherman and Berman,” (April 11).

Not only is the State Department far more qualified in foreign policy than he or Rep. Howard Berman — both are lawyers, after all, not holders of international relations degrees or credentials — but his vocal opposition to President Obama’s and European nations’ military action against Moammar Ghadhafi is not something to be proud of.

While he is not a rubber stamp for the State Department, Rep. Sherman is a rubber stamp for the Armenian lobby, doing everything they ask of him without any questions, whether its co-sponsoring Turcophobic and anti-Turkey resolutions in the Congress or lobbying for direct aid to the Armenian military junta that has occupied the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and committed multiple war crimes there against peaceful Azeri civilians. 

Furthermore, despite Rep. Sherman claiming that he “pushed for stronger sanctions” on Iran, he actually opposed every attempt by the U.S. government to sanction Armenia for its nuclear proliferation with Iran and selling of weapons that killed U.S. soldiers like Matthew Straughter in Iraq in 2008. The entire raison d’etre of both Reps. Sherman and Berman on the House Foreign Affairs Committee seems to be to cover up Armenian transgressions while supporting bills against such strategic U.S. allies like Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. 

From Adil Baguirov, co-founder of the U.S. Azeris Network, Alexandria, Va.

Fact check: Filibuster not the same as defeat

I wish to complain about the title of The Hill’s “Senate defeats Democrats’ measure to kill off ‘Big Oil’ tax breaks, 51-47” (March 29). The full Senate did not defeat the measure — the measure was passed by committee but was filibustered by the Republican minority.

I suggest that the title “Republicans filibuster Senate bill to kill off ‘Big Oil’ tax breaks” would be much more appropriate for an organization that strives to report events in Congress accurately. The routine use of the filibuster is a political act that should not be normalized by a journalistic policy that hides reality.


From John Whalley

Defense spending leaves little for anything else


The National Priorities Project reports that almost 57 percent of discretionary spending for FY 2013 is proposed to go to our military. This leaves precious little to invest in our real security needs such as safe water, clean air, green jobs and the health and well-being of our people. We cannot disrespect our environment any longer.

The “Budget for All” is a realistic approach that provides a strong vision for the future of our nation. It incorporates the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act and would save $100 billion over the next decade by making prudent cuts to U.S. nuclear weapons spending, bolstering both our economic and national security.

Our current federal budget does not represent my priorities. We can and we must change our budget to reflect the challenges of our time. After all, it is our money, and it is time for a change.

From Gerri Michalska, Washington, D.C.

Trim military costs to boost education, housing

Congress: Stop wasting our tax dollars on high-tech military gadgets and allocate 30 percent of what is spent on “defense” to education, housing and meeting the social needs of our population.

From Jeffrey Davidson, Woodbridge, Va.