Sen. Ernst Says Schumer Is Blocking Spending Transparency

By Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Congressional Correspondent
Mark Tapscott is an award-winning investigative editor and reporter who covers Congress, national politics, and policy for The Epoch Times. Mark was admitted to the National Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Hall of Fame in 2006 and he was named Journalist of the Year by CPAC in 2008. He was a consulting editor on the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Other Than Honorable” in 2014.
December 7, 2020Updated: December 7, 2020

Newly reelected Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) has Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in her sights, singling him out for her latest Squeal Award for blocking a proposal to make federal spending more transparent.

The monthly award “recognizes a Washington expense, program, or concept that has proven to be wasteful and must be cut,” according to Ernst’s website.

“The Taxpayer Right to Know Act would require a public report card listing every federal program along with regular updates on the costs and performance outcomes of each,” Ernst said in a Dec. 7 statement.

“Bureaucrats would be forced to make a list and check it twice for taxpayers to determine for themselves who has been naughty or nice with their tax dollars,” she said.

“What might come as no surprise to you is that this bipartisan bill has been held up for years by a single senator, Chuck Schumer of New York,” Ernst continued.

Senate rules allow individual senators to object to bringing proposed legislation to the floor for a vote. Schumer has objected to consideration by the full Senate of the Taxpayers Right to Know Act since 2018.

The proposal was jointly introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) that year, with Ernst among the multiple co-sponsors.

A version of the bill was approved by the House, it was reported favorably to the full Senate by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and President Donald Trump had expressed support for the measure.

The proposal “would create an online database that reports financial data and performance metrics for every federal program above one million dollars. The bill would require every federal agency to provide taxpayers an annual report card for all of its programs and would require agencies to identify the number of employees and beneficiaries served by each federal program,” according to Lankford’s office.

But Schumer stopped the bill’s progress through Congress, despite 27 major changes made to the bill during six revisions to its language, all sought by Schumer and accepted by Lankford and McCaskill during lengthy negotiations among the senators’ staffs, according to Lankford during an April 25, 2018, floor speech.

Those negotiations lasted for six months, he said, but then suddenly, Schumer stopped talking, with no explanation as to why, Lankford told the Senate.

“We now learn today the problem is [Schumer] doesn’t want the program inventory to be public because if the American people and the Congress and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) see the programs, then they might actually do things with efficiency,” Lankford said.

“The fear is the public will actually find out what the federal government is spending.”

Schumer’s spokesman, Justin Goodman, didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment on Ernst’s allegation.

Ernst said Schumer’s opposition allows federal departments and agencies to continue wasteful spending at a time when millions of Americans are having a hard time buying Christmas presents for their families.

“Don’t let Uncle Sam do your Christmas shopping because Washington—the world’s biggest buyer—is no bargain hunter,” Ernst said in her statement announcing the award to Schumer.

“You may recall the Air Force recently paid $1,220 for a coffee cup that was so fragile it easily broke if dropped. And that’s just one small example of how federal agencies are often overpaying millions—and even billions—of your tax dollars for poor products and shoddy services.

“Here are a few others:

  • A $4 million federal grant for an employment training program in Atlanta, Georgia, resulted in just one single person getting a job. That’s right, only ONE person!
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) may have overpaid $33 million for faulty and recalled cardiac devices. That’s enough to give taxpayers a heart attack!
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grants were spent to purchase properties in Honolulu, Hawaii, at millions of dollars above market value. And it gets worse: the rent at some of the apartments actually increased for the residents after the government bought the buildings … while other units have sat vacant or underutilized for years.”

Ernst was reelected handily in the Nov. 3 election, defeating Democrat Theresa Greenfield in one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country.

Ernst, who was first elected to the Senate in 2014, was targeted by Democrats, with a result that the 2020 race became one of the most expensive in the upper chamber’s history. Between them, Republican and Democrat campaign committees spent more than $214 million.

Ernst served in the Army National Guard from 1993 to 2014 and retired as a lieutenant colonel.

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