Posted on: April 26, 2012
Congress OKs freeze on travel spending
Congress has voted to cut and freeze travel spending by government agencies for five years, an apparent response to the scandal over the General Services Administration's (GSA) excessive spending on its Western Regions Conference in 2010.
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As passed by the House and the Senate, the measure would cap travel spending by government agencies at 80% of their 2010 level through 2016.
It would also set new restrictions on government agency participation in meetings and conferences, including a requirement that "no agency may expend more than $500,000 to support a single conference."
After the disclosures about the GSA event in Las Vegas, these provisions were added to a pending measure called the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act, which deals generally with the topic of standards and procedures for reporting federal expenditures.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a key sponsor of the bill and the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said on the eve of the House vote, "Now, more than ever, the American people demand real accountability of how their tax dollars are being spent. It's clear from our investigation into GSA's lavish conference spending that accountability and increased transparency is needed. Through the bipartisan DATA Act, we can improve our oversight of federal funds by mandating clear, consistent reporting standards."
As amended, the measure passed the House by a voice vote. In the Senate, it was attached to a postal reform bill that passed by a vote of 62-37. The versions are different, however, and need to be reconciled before they can be sent to the White House for the President’s signature.
Note: This article has been updated to reflect that there are two different versions of the measure that need to be reconciled before becoming law.