Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) wants to cut the deficit by ending taxpayer-funded portraits of members of Congress.
Cassidy and several other House Republicans have offered the Eliminating Government-funded Oil-painting (EGO) Act, which would prevent taxpayer funds from being spent on portraits of members of Congress and heads of federal agencies.
Official portraits of lawmakers and officials in the executive branch adorn the hallways and rooms throughout Washington, D.C. Cassidy's bill, H.R. 1594, was introduced on the heels of press reports that recent official portraits of federal agency heads cost roughly $20,000 to $40,000. ABC News reported last month that the Obama administration has spent nearly $400,000 on paintings in the last two years.
In a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Cassidy said spending money on these portraits when the national debt is nearly $17 trillion is unacceptable.
"At a time of trillion dollar deficits, it is not appropriate to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars on official paintings," he wrote. "If agency administrators, cabinet secretaries or members of Congress feel it necessary to commission official portraits, they should be responsible for paying for them."
In a "Dear Colleague" letter to members of the House, Cassidy wrote that the Environmental Protection Agency spent $40,000 on a painting of former Administrator Lisa Jackson and that other recent paintings, including one of Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE, cost more than $20,000.
"[I]s it appropriate to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayers dollars on official paintings of Lisa Jackson and Tom Vilsack?" he asked. "That's exactly what's happening."
Co-sponsors of Cassidy's bill are Reps. Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineSpaceX all-civilian crew returns to Earth, successfully completing 3-day mission SpaceX all-civilian crew calls Tom Cruise from space How will Biden's Afghanistan debacle impact NASA's Artemis return to the moon? MORE (R-Okla.), John FlemingJohn Calvin FlemingLobbying world Trump wants Congress to delay Census deadlines amid pandemic Meadows sets up coronavirus hotline for members of Congress MORE (R-La.), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), Pete Olson (R-Texas), and Bill Posey (R-Fla.).