McCain: Government spent $294B on expired programs

The federal government is spending at least $294 billion of taxpayer money this year on hundreds of expired programs, according to a report released Thursday.

The 19-page “America’s Most Wasted” report is the first in a series of oversight studies from Sen. John McCainJohn McCainSyria activists cheer Kaine pick Clinton brings in the heavy hitters Guess which Cuban-American 2016 candidate best set themselves up for 2020? MORE (R-Ariz.) meant to highlight examples of wasteful and duplicative government spending.

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McCain identified $1.1 billion in wasteful spending on projects that included an Army research study into the bomb-detecting abilities of elephants, puppet shows in Vermont and the creation of a dog bite prevention website, among others.

The $294 billion that is being spent on expired programs stems from a report the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released in January. Last year, the government spent $302 billion on unauthorized projects.

“I believe the 'America’s Most Wasted' reports should serve as a wake-up call to Congress and the American people to keep their government accountable by demanding an end to wasteful government spending,” McCain said in a statement.

McCain specifically pounced on the budget at the Pentagon, including a $2.4 billion cost overrun on the Navy’s new aircraft carrier. He said the waste specifically harms his mission to lift the sequestration caps on the military’s budget.

“We have to get rid of the duplicative waste in the Pentagon so that I can will have credibility when I say, we’ve got to get rid of sequestration because it is destroying our ability to defend the nation,” he said Thursday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”

McCain's report found that the Army is spending $50,000 to research whether elephants in South Africa can detect bombs.

It also found that the Social Security Administration has issued more than $225 million in overpayments to more than 106,000 students. Children with a deceased, retired or disabled parent have access to these benefits until they graduate or turn 19. McCain’s report said $2.5 billion in benefits is provided to 4.4 million children nationwide each month.

The National Guard has spent $49 million on advertising deals with professional sports leagues to support recruiting, the report found.

The government is also spending $14 million on a program at the Department of Agriculture to develop a catfish inspection office even though the Food and Drug Administration already has one.

The National Institutes of Health, the report said, awarded a grant worth nearly $391,000 to a university to develop a website to teach children about dog bites.

Another $15,000 grant issued by the Environmental Protection Agency was given to a university to study pollution that emanates from backyard barbecues, the report said.

Future reports in the “America’s Most Wasted” series will highlight wasteful spending at the Pentagon, the Department of Veterans Affairs and federal wildfire management, McCain said.

McCain said the reports piggyback on the annual wasteful spending reports former Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnThe Trail 2016: Words matter Ex-Sen. Coburn: I won’t challenge Trump, I’ll vote for him Coburn: I haven't seen 'self-discipline' from Trump MORE (R-Okla.) compiled while he served in Congress. 

— This story was updated at 12:08 p.m.