Just days after introducing a comprehensive package to fix the broken budget process and create more transparency for Iowa taxpayers, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) spoke on the Senate floor on her efforts to “Make ‘Em Squeal.” Senator Ernst highlighted the government waste she has targeted through her monthly Squeal Awards—which led to her reforms to cut this wasteful spending being included the president’s proposed budget.
Senator Ernst’s MAKE CENTS Act—or the Making Americans Know about Excessive spending through Commonsense Efforts to Notice and Target Shenanigans Act—would codify these efforts and force Congress to actually address Washington’s spending addiction, get the budget process back on track, and ensure Iowans’ understand exactly how their hard-earned dollars are being spent.
Senator Ernst’s remarks are below:
“Mr. President, there’s really no way to sugar coat it: Washington’s budget process is broken.
“Every year, it’s like clockwork:
“First, the president submits his budget – like we saw on Monday. Then, the House tears it up (no pun intended…really).
“They ultimately fail to pass their own budget. And then, Congress kicks the can down the road before—finally—cramming through a budget-busting bill at the 11th hour.
“There’s no question this process is dysfunctional. But, maybe more importantly, its lack of transparency allows wasteful spending to continue year after year unchecked.
“And folks, this cycle has to end.
“We have to start chipping away at this ballooning debt, and we have to work toward cutting our government’s most wasteful spending.
“One of the best ways to do this is to call it out when we see it.
“As some of you may know, every month I give out my ‘Squeal Award’ to call out the parts of our government that are wasting hardworking Americans’ tax dollars.
“I highlight the most egregious waste found within the bowels of Washington, and then, I put it forward and offer up a solution to stop it.
“Take for example, what I like to call the ‘binge buying bureaucrats.’
“Every year at the end of September, bureaucrats charge billions of dollars to taxpayers during Washington’s annual ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ spending spree.
“We’ve seen compulsive buying include items like millions and millions of dollars of lobster and crab, we’ve even seen spending on games and toys, or even something like a $12,000 foosball table. Foosball, is that what we need in Washington, D.C.? Foosball.
“I have also called out Washington’s boondoggles that are just bottomless money pits for projects that never really even get off the ground.
“And the contractors that are working on these boondoggles? The ones who are failing at their jobs? Guess what…they are getting big fat bonuses.
“A primary example of this egregious misuse of tax dollars is what I like to call – the ‘Moondoggle.’
“There you have it. Look at that, the Moondoggle.
“I’m talking about the rockets being developed for NASA’s next moon mission. This project is billions of dollars OVER budget and YEARS, folks not months, but years behind schedule due to poor performance.
“Yet, NASA still handed out generous bonuses totaling over $300 million to the contractor that is working on the project.
“Folks, it’s absurd. This is absurd, and we’ve got to put an end to it.
“And thankfully…I believe we might actually be on a path that will do that.
“Taxpayers should be encouraged that all this ‘squealing’ has finally been heard at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
“Both of these Squeal Award recipients – the binge buying bureaucrats and the infamous moondoggle – have been targeted by President Trump in his latest budget proposal.
“Within its pages, the President states that his administration is committed to stopping improper end-of-the-year spending and will begin closely scrutinizing how money is being spent at the end of the fiscal year to curtail waste.
“The President’s budget also calls out the poor performance of the NASA contractor and proposes management improvements that would shave $300 million off the cost of the mission!
“And this is encouraging, no doubt about it.
“But in order to codify these efforts, I’m putting forward a package of commonsense reforms to join the president in urging Congress to actually address Washington’s spending addiction, get our budget process back on track, and ensure Iowans’ understand exactly how their hard-earned dollars are being spent.
“In order to force Congress to do its job and become a better steward of taxpayers’ money, I have introduced the MAKE CENTS Act.
“This comprehensive package combines five simple ideas I have previously introduced:
“First off, it requires an annual report listing every government-funded project that is $1 billion or more over budget or five years or more behind schedule.
“Second, it requires every project supported with federal funds to include a price tag that is easily available for taxpayers.
“Third, it eliminates ‘use-it or lose-it’ impulse purchases by limiting an agency’s spending in the last two months of the fiscal year to no more than the average spent in the other months.
“Fourth, it prohibits Congress from going on recess without passing a budget on time.
“And fifth, and lastly, it prohibits Congress from getting paid without passing a budget on time.
“Folks, these are not new or radical reforms. Many folks in the Senate and in the House have proposed various versions of these items, recognizing the serious problem that we face.
“Like the bill title says, these ideas just make sense.
“If hardworking Iowa families have to manage their budgets, we really should expect Washington to do the same.
“So let’s get at it.”