by Jack Minor –
In what might seem like an unusual move for a government official, Rep. Cory Gardner announced today he would be returning $218,274 from his Congressional office budget to the United States Treasury.
“With a debt of more than $15 trillion, it is important to look for cost-cutting solutions throughout the federal government, and members of Congress are no exception. We must lead by example and show the American people that we are serious about controlling our debt and balancing the budget,” Gardner said. “After over a year of accomplishing more with less, I am pleased to return these funds as a step in reducing the debt burden on future generations.”
The House of Representatives has cut its member and committee office budgets by more than 10 percent since the beginning of the 112th Congress, and Gardner has been a lead supporter of these efforts. Gardner’s yearly budget was $1,461,825 making the cut almost 15 percent of his office’s total budget.
Gardner is not the only member of Congress to return funds from their budget back to the government, in fact over the years some have become fairly aggressive about showing their frugality.
Recently Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced he was returning $500,000 in unspent funds from his first year in office Paul, like his father Rep. Ron Paul, has consistently fought for spending cuts and attempted to limit Congressional legislation to what is specifically prescribed in the Constitution.
A Politico analysis of salaries, travel, rent, supplies and other expenses revealed that when broken down by party the Republicans have the edge, returning around 11.7 percent of their total budgets compared to 8.3 percent for the Democratic Party.
During the past few years, Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, has returned the most to taxpayers, around $1.2 million a year which translates to almost 40 percent of his budget.
The Republicans are not the only ones to return funds, and even liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer returned .65 percent of her budget.
Individually the amounts returned are not necessarily related to one’s conservatism or liberalism. Following Shelby was Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) who returned 34.3 percent of his budget.
Gardner, along with other Republicans elected by Tea Party supporters in 2010, have attempted to rein in federal spending. He says a source of frustration is how often budget legislation is passed by the House simply to die in the Senate without coming up for a vote.
“We have passed multiple budgets in the House as we are required to do by the Constitution, but the Senate, controlled by Harry Reid, has gone over 1,000 days without passing a budget.”