Bustos Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Crack Down on Lavish Spending by Cabinet Officials, Increase Transparency for Taxpayers

Bustos Introduces First Bill of 116th Congress, Continues Her Fight for Good Government with Reining In Irresponsible Decorating Expenses Act

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) introduced legislation to crack down on lavish spending by Cabinet officials and to increase transparency for taxpayers on renovation and redecorating expenses at federal agencies. Joining Congresswoman Bustos as the lead Republican sponsor of the Reining In Irresponsible Decorating Expenses (RIIDE) Act is Congressman Mark Meadows (NC-11).

Recently, Cabinet officials have come under heightened scrutiny after reports of lavish redecorating expenses on the taxpayer’s dime. Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt spent nearly $43,000 on a sound-proof phone booth, violating federal spending laws. Additionally, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson spent more than $31,000 of taxpayer money on a new dining set. The RIIDE Act would crack down on these purchases and increase transparency for hardworking taxpayers.

“In every corner of our region, I hear frustration about the rampant greed and corruption at the highest levels of our government – and too often, taxpayer dollars are used to foot the bill for lavish purchases by Cabinet officials,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “This legislation would make common-sense reforms to hold the powerful accountable and ensure taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly. Cabinet officials shouldn’t have a blank check to live large on the taxpayer’s dime, and this bill is a much-needed step in the right direction to make the government work for the people again – not for personal gain.”

“Public officials have the upmost responsibility to be good stewards of taxpayer funds, and the RIIDE Act will take critical steps in helping provide the transparency we need,” Congressman Meadows said. “I want to thank my colleague Rep. Bustos for her work on this issue and look forward to continuing the fight to make sure every dollar government spends is accountable to those who provide it.”

“This legislation would provide much needed spending transparency, helping to prevent future missteps by agency heads that rightfully call into question their ability to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Peter Tyler, Senior Policy Analyst at the Project on Government Oversight. “It also correctly prioritizes accountability over high-priced office furniture.”

“The RIIDE Act is a critical common-sense reform that would ensure public officials do not abuse the public trust,” said Tom Schatz, President of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste. “Instead of measuring their taxpayer-funded drapes, Washington politicians should be focused on fiscal responsibility for themselves and the nation.”

The RIIDE Act would bring much-needed transparency to federal agency heads’ excessive spending on office renovations and furniture and create real consequences for those who break the rules. Before Cabinet secretaries and agency heads spend more than $5,000 in taxpayer funds for office renovations and furniture, the RIIDE Act would require them not only to notify Congress, but also to justify the expense. Furthermore, the legislation would require them to report to Congress on the performance of their respective agency, including up-to-date information on grant backlogs, staffing levels and other important benchmarks. Lastly, the RIIDE Act would create consequences for those that don’t comply – failing to report such expenses would require paying back the U.S. Treasury for the expense, including interest.

Other original cosponsors of the RIIDE Act include Representatives Jim Cooper (TN-05), Max Rose (NY-11), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), Josh Harder (CA-10), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Cindy Axne (IA-03), Susan Wild (PA-07), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Lucy McBath (GA-06), Sean Casten (IL-06), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Susie Lee (NV-03), Greg Stanton (AZ-09), Sharice Davids (KS-03), Katie Hill (CA-25), Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02), Angie Craig (MN-02), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) and Jason Crow (CO-06).