Bustos joins Problem Solvers in introducing legislative package

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U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos on Thursday joined several other members of Congress in introducing bills aimed at bringing bipartisan common sense legislation out of Capital Hill, including one of her own.

The East Moline Democrat introduced the Government Transformation Act, which would reduce waste and duplication in government, as part of the No Labels Make Government Work legislative package brought forth on Thursday. A companion piece was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois.

The new legislation expands on a bill Bustos introduced in February, her first bill, which is called the Government Waste Reduction Act. Whereas that bill focused on waste and duplicative efforts as identified by the General Accounting Office, the Government Transformation Act would create a bipartisan commission empowered to look at any programs to root out waste.

"There are too many government programs that are too costly and inefficient. I learned early in my life that you have to keep a balanced budget and to do so you have to live within yours means. The government needs to do the same thing. I cannot support the budget being balanced on the backs of middle class Americans," Bustos said during a telephone news conference with local media.

"Every year, think tanks, auditors, investigators, and even Uncle Sam's own Government Accountability Office crank out report after report concluding the same thing - too many federal government programs are inefficient, costly, ineffective or all of the above. And yet every year, these conclusions are largely ignored. As a consequence, the federal government unnecessarily wastes billions of dollars a year while many government programs continue to operate without concrete goals or standards for success. My common sense bipartisan bill attacks government waste and helps ensure government programs are more economical, efficient, and effective," she said.

The commission her bill proposes would have seven members jointly appointed by the President and Congressional leaders. "It's time for a more rigorous focus," Bustos said, adding she already had garnered the bipartisan support of 30 other members of Congress as of Thursday afternoon. "This takes cutting government waste to the next level," she said.

The No Labels Make Government Work package, supported by a group of Congress members calling themselves Problem Solvers — of which Bustos is a member — calls for ending the partisan gridlock in Washington to pass bills needed for all Americans, including a balanced budget. One of the nine bills included in the package calls for a two-year budgeting cycle instead of an annual budget process, which the group believes would save money as well as reduce partisan politics within the process.

Another bill in the package calls for Congress members to forego their paychecks until a budget is approved if they go beyond the budgeting deadline. "We shouldn't be paid if we can't get the job done when we're supposed to," she said.

The No Labels Problem Solvers is a group of 81 Democrats from both the U.S. House and Senate who meet regularly to discuss issues while building trust across the aisle. Bustos is one of six Illinois Congress members who is part of the group. She also is one of only two freshmen members to be a lead sponsor on a bill.

Brad McMillan, the executive director of the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley University, said those members are showing the kind of leadership needed to find bipartisan solutions. That is the focus of his group, said McMillan, who participated in the telephone news conference.

"If we are going to move public policy forward we have to be willing to cross the aisle and work together. Finding bipartisan solutions needs to happen in Washington, D.C.," said McMillan, a former Congressional chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood.

Bustos cited a GAO report when she noted the savings from reducing government waste and eliminating duplication could reach $400 billion annually. "I am not talking about reducing needed services but there is a lot of duplication. These times call for efficient government so let's get rid of the overlap," she said.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).