WASHINGTON – Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) on Monday chronicled $247 billion worth of questionable government spending levied on federal taxpayers this year detailed in his second annual report on government waste.
“The NIH [National Institutes of Health] did a study of about $2 million to study how children receive food; including testing to see when food is sneezed on if five-year-olds will still eat the food,” Lankford said. “Now I think we could’ve answered that question for less than $2 million, but that’s one of them that’s out there.”
“A push by the USDA [United States Department of Agriculture] to try to see if they can get more healthy food options to people that are recipients of SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program]. Again, that is a good idea that when we deal with food stamps or SNAP, to be able to make sure there are healthy food options, but instead of focusing in on the healthy food options, they’re pushing for the place that they’re actually purchasing the healthy food option.”
Lankford said venues such as gas stations and convenience stores where SNAP benefits are often distributed need to contend with regulations requiring the sale of high-priced items such as goat-cheese, almond-milk, fresh shrimp and catfish. He said those regulations have resulted in many rural and urban venues refusing to provide SNAP benefits.
Lankford described a $495,000 appropriation dedicated to funding a temporary exhibit that would allow visitors to experience scents and smells from the Middle Ages. He also mentioned that U.S. taxpayers were recently forced to fund “grave-digging in Iceland” to study that nation’s ancient cultures.
Lankford said his report should not be considered partisan in nature, and that every administration has proven willing to engage in wasteful spending.
“This is not about targeting Republicans, Democrats [or] any administration,” Lankford said. “Bureaucracy is bureaucracy… inefficiency is present in every government. This is an issue of oversight.”
Lankford said he has not released his report to the transition team of President-elect Donald Trump, who vowed to cut government waste during his campaign. He also said that he would be willing to challenge any administration that chooses to engage in what he believes to be wasteful spending.
When asked about the fiscal viability of the Trump’s proposals to increase infrastructure spending and beef-up the U.S. military, Lankford said that careful oversight is necessary but that the proposals must be implemented.
“If you deal with anything as large as we are, there will always be areas of waste — always,” Lankford said. “When you deal with billions of dollars you’re not going to be able to catch every dollar; it’s important we keep the oversight on it.”
“When you deal with what Donald Trump has raised specifically on military and on infrastructure, those are primary functions of government. Those are things that we need to do.”
When pressed about Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border as a means of halting illegal immigration, Lankford suggested that the proposal has merit but said it is not a comprehensive solution.
“Some of that you can’t do,” Lankford said. “For instance, between Texas and Mexico, the international border is the middle of the Rio Grande River. You’re not going to be able to put a wall and a fence in the middle of the river. So there has to be a different set of solutions.”
This article was reprinted with permission from Talk Media News
Bryan is an award-winning political journalist who has extensive experience covering Congress and Maryland state government.
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His original UMBC investigation gained international attention, was featured in People Magazine and he was interviewed by ABC’s “Good Morning America” and local radio stations. Bryan broke subsequent stories documenting UMBC’s omission of a sexual assault on their daily crime log and a federal investigation related to the university’s handling of an alleged sexual assault.