Eight House Republicans save $1.4 million from office budgets

The lawmakers said they were surprised to find that the savings don't automatically go to pay down the deficit, and instead go into a "black hole account."

They said, if necessary, they will pursue legislation that would require savings from House accounts to go toward deficit reduction. 

In total, the lawmakers said their offices, on average, saved 12 percent their budgets, which is used for everything from supplies to staff salaries. That total includes a mandatory 5 percent cut overwhelmingly approved by the House a year ago. 

Although the lawmakers acknowledge that $1.435 million is a very small portion of the $15 trillion national debt and the $1.3 trillion deficit recorded in 2011, it "goes back to the old adage of pinching pennies," said Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.).

The amounts that the lawmakers returned ranged from $145,000 to $300,000. 

The Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday predicted the deficit will rise to $1.08 trillion in 2012. 

The deficit was $1.4 trillion in 2009, $1.3 trillion in 2010 and $1.3 trillion in 2011. The largest deficit recorded before that was $458 billion in 2008.

In January 2011, the Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly implemented a 5 percent reduction in office funding that cut $1 million from all House leadership offices, $8.1 million from committee budgets and a total of $26.1 million from members' offices, for a grand total of $35.2 million.

Landry, who spearheaded the savings effort, said Wednesday that when he first arrived in Washington a year ago he didn't ask what would happen to that money. 

When asked by the Hill where Landry's office saved money, he didn't pinpoint any specific savings, saying they were "collective" cuts. 

The lawmakers signing the letter were Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C), Steve Southerland (R-Fla.), Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderKansas Senate race splits wide open without Pompeo Mike Pompeo to speak at Missouri-Kansas Forum amid Senate bid speculation Yoder, Messer land on K Street MORE (R-Kan.).