Congressman Matt Salmon

Representing the 5th District of Arizona

S.O.S. Shrink Our Spending Initiative

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Our nation is drowning in debt – $17.4 trillion dollars of it…Yet, our nation’s leaders continue to approve wasteful spending without a blink, and continue to spend your tax dollars in the most imprudent ways. Enough is enough. We must have the courage to start cutting spending somewhere.

To address this problem and honor my promise to you, I am pleased to announce the launching of my Shrinking Our Spending Initiative, or SOS Initiative. My SOS Initiative will push to make the hard spending cuts we refuse to make, in the areas of government we refuse to touch.

My goal through the SOS Initiative is to find at least 1.5 billion dollars in wasteful spending that can be eliminated.

As part of my SOS Initiative, I plan to introduce a new bill each week we are in session to cut wasteful spending in a different area of our federal government.

These bills will highlight wasteful and duplicative programs that your tax dollars are currently funding. And some of these wasteful programs will surprise you.

You'll be able to track each bill on this page as they are introduced.

SOS Initiatives:

SOS Bill Program Cost
1 H.R. 4231 Defunds East-West Center $ 16,700,000
2 H.R. 4362 Prohibits funding to United Nations Population Fund $ 35,000,000
3 H.R. 4379 Defunds National Labor Relations Board $ 274,224,000
4 H.R. 4482 Defunds EPA's Science and Technology Account $ 759,156,000
5 H.R. 4649 Defunds Voice of America $ 196,375,000
6 H.R. 4744 Prohibits funding to the Rural Utilities Service High Energy Cost Grant Program $ 11,000,000
7 H.R. 4794 Prohibits the NSF from providing financial support for travel to Antarctica by writers and artists ≥ $ 31,500,000
8 H.R. 4914 To prohibit providing Federal funds for the U.S. Institute of Peace $ 35,300,000
9 H.R. 5008 Prohibits funding United Nations Democracy Fund $ 4,200,000
10 H.R. 5090 To prohibit providing Federal funds for the National Endowment for the Arts $ 146,000,000
11 H.R. 5155 To prohibit providing Federal funds for the National Endowment for the Humanities' Popular Romance Project $ 914,000
12 H.R. 5210 To prohibit providing Federal funds for the National Endowment for the Humanities $ 154,000,000
13 H.R. 5371 To defund the Heritage Partnership Program $ 18,300,000
    Proposed Savings $ 1,775,169,000

 

SOS

Click here to watch the video.

SOS #1: East-West Center 

Washington, D.C.—Rep. Salmon released the following statement upon the introduction of H.R. 4231, To prohibit United States assistance to the East-West Center, his first bill in a series to reduce wasteful government spending:

All too often, our Congress has refused to make the tough decisions to rein in our out-of-control spending problem. The time is fast-approaching where if we do not make these decisions ourselves, they will be made for us, as we have seen happen to our friends in Europe and elsewhere.  Now is the time to keep our promise to cut wasteful spending, regardless of the political consequences, in order to become fiscally sound. We must put partisanship aside as we pursue fiscal sanity.  While many of my proposed cuts would only amount to a tiny fraction of a reduction in total federal spending, we must start somewhere. As any family does in times of hardship, we must cut back on expenses and small luxuries.  This bill is only the beginning of my efforts to help get the federal government out of our spending pit, one step at a time. My first bill addresses the East-West Center, a prime example of government pork.”

Background:  The East-West Center was established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 at the University of Hawaii’s Manoa campus to promote U.S.-Asian Relations. As part of the fiscal year 2014 budget, the East-West Center is scheduled to receive $16.7 million in federal funding. The East-West Center already receives large amounts of private funding through the East-West Center Foundation, which is an appropriate way for the Center to fund its programs.  With taxpayer funds, the Center gives out grants with little oversight. This is not a comment on the work they do, but instead is a position that their work should be privately funded.

Bill text available here.

SOS #2: United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Washington, D.C.—Today, Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) announced his second in a series of bills that will be introduced over the next few months to highlight and cut wasteful tax-payer funded programs government-wide. Upon introduction of his latest bill to eliminate federal funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Salmon released the following statement:

“In my quest to continue to cut wasteful spending, my second piece of legislation as part of my SOS Initiative deals with defunding the United Nations Population Fund, an international, pro-choice organization that is consistently involved in supporting programs that go against the very principles on which America stands. Since U.S. taxpayers already fund many global health initiatives through both the Department of State and USAID, subject to congressional oversight and U.S. law, there is no need to further fund the UNFPA. It is time that Congress start finding ways to reduce wasteful spending in our budget instead of funding multi-national organizations that spend American dollars on duplicative programs. I am happy to lead this charge.”

Background:  The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is an international, pro-choice organization that is consistently involved in supporting programs that are not in line with America’s policy agenda. This includes allegations that the UNFPA cooperates with China’s coercive one-child policy. Previous federal appropriations have stipulated that the UNFPA receive no funds, or that any funding received could not be used in China. In the most recent appropriations legislation, $35,000,000 was allocated towards this program.

Bill text available here.

SOS #3: National Labor Relations Board (NRLB)

Washington, D.C.—Today, Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) announced his third in a series of bills that will be introduced over the next few months to highlight and cut wasteful taxpayer-funded programs government-wide. Upon introduction of his latest bill to eliminate federal funding for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Salmon released the following statement:

“In my quest to continue to cut wasteful spending, my third piece of legislation as part of my SOS Initiative deals with defunding the NLRB, a pro-union organization that can dictate where businesses can locate, expand and spend their capital. U.S. taxpayers already fund the Department of Justice to oversee a wide variety of civil, criminal and administrative labor issues, and with their experience and province, they are certainly capable of handling claims of unfair labor practices. Moreover, they could do so without the pro-big-labor bias and partisanship that is endemic to the NRLB. Congress must start making hard choices now to reduce wasteful spending in our budget instead of continuing to fund duplicative agencies. I am happy to continue to lead this charge.”

Background:  The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was officially established in 1935 when President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law Senator Wagner’s National Labor Relations Act, which, in part, created an independent agency to implement and administer the new national labor policy. Today, the NLRB has become a vast bureaucratic agency that does nothing but impede job growth and economic prosperity. The Department of Justice already oversees a wide variety of civil, criminal and administrative labor issues, including anti-trust laws, voting rights, and major mergers and acquisitions. In the most recent appropriations legislation, $274,224,000 were allocated towards this agency.

Bill text available here.

SOS #4: EPA’s Science and Technology Account

Washington, D.C.—Today, Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) announced his fourth in a series of bills that will be introduced over the next few months to highlight and cut wasteful taxpayer-funded programs government-wide. Upon introduction of his latest bill to eliminate federal funding for the Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science and Technology Account, Salmon released the following statement:

“Duplicative programs can be found throughout the behemoth known as the federal government and the EPA is certainly no exception. The EPA’s Science and Technology Account is used to direct funding for climate change research. Regardless of what you think about climate change, this research should actually be– and in fact already is –done through the Department of Energy and not the agency charged with regulation enforcement.  To achieve streamlined and efficient research spending, we should cut funding to this duplicative account and focus research in one agency and save U.S. taxpayers funds.  Through the SOS Initiative, I will continue to identify duplicative or wasteful programs that many are unwilling to even review and eliminate them as a matter of government efficiency and cost effectiveness.”

Background:  The EPA’s Science and Technology account is used to direct federal funding for research related to global warming and climate change research. Additionally, their science and technology research areas include sustainable practices, ecosystems, health, and more. This research should be consolidated and conducted through the Department of Energy. Having it spread across departments and agencies results in duplication and lack of streamlined, efficient research spending. Funding for this account for FY14 amounted to $759,156,000.

Bill text available here.

SOS #5: Voice of America (VOA)

Washington, D.C.—Today, Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) announced his fifth Shrink Our Spending (SOS) bill in a series of bills to be introduced over the next few months to cut wasteful and duplicative spending. Upon introduction of a bill to eliminate federal funding for the Voice of America (VOA), Salmon released the following statement:

“For my fifth SOS bill, I introduced legislation to eliminate federal funding for VOA. While originally commissioned to provide a ‘clear and effective presentation of the policies of the United States’, the VOA has veered from its original mission and has, sadly, become another duplicative, federal program. Rather than working to fulfill its original mission, VOA has fallen into the rut of merely mimicking other news outlets by simply reporting news. Unbiased news reporting is important in countries where freedom of the press is limited. Because of this, the United States already funds organizations tasked with disseminating unfiltered news to regions of the world that lack a free press. While a worthy cause, it is not one VOA was primarily tasked to do.  Furthermore, Cold War relics, such as VOA, have been rendered obsolete with the rise of the Internet and social media, especially in closed countries which have connected our world in ways we could have never imagined. With the success of social media and other U.S. taxpayer-funded broadcasting programs, it makes fiscal sense to eliminate this superfluous federally funded entity.” 

Background: The Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts began in 1942 as a response to the need for people in closed and war-torn societies to obtain reliable news. After World War II, VOA was preserved and transferred from the Department of War to the Department of State. According to its Charter, signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1976, VOA is to "serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news, ... present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions, present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, [as well as offer] discussions and opinion on these policies." VOA is now is one of a group of federally funded broadcasting entitles that reports to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). In addition to overseeing the VOA, the BBG is responsible for supervising, directing, and overseeing the operations of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB, operating the Radio and TV Martí services to Cuba), and funds and provides oversight to the grantee broadcasters Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN). The VOA received $196,375,000 in FY13.

Bill text available here.

SOS #6: Rural Utilities Service High Energy Cost Grant Program

Washington, D.C.—Today, Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) announced his sixth in a series of bills that will be introduced over the next few months to highlight and cut wasteful taxpayer-funded programs government-wide. Upon introduction of his latest bill to prohibit federal funding of the Rural Utilities Service High Energy Cost Grant Program, Salmon released the following statement:

“Bipartisan agreement in Washington, D.C. is a rarity. So when both Presidents Bush and Obama point out the duplicative nature of a federal program, Congress should take heed. This is just the case with the Rural Utilities Service High Energy Cost Grant Program. Through the Department of Agriculture, this program offers grants to assist a select range of communities with higher-than-average energy costs. The Department of Agriculture already has a program that allows rural communities to apply to receive financial assistance for energy improvement. While Congress can take time to debate the merits and disadvantages of federally subsidizing rural energy costs, we should all be able to agree to cut duplicative programs within the same agency.  Duplicative programs abound in the federal government and are symptomatic of a much larger problem. Congress is addicted to spending and this addiction is costing our nation dearly. With a national debt over $17.5 trillion we must make tough choices now. That is why, through the SOS Initiative, I will continue to identify duplicative or wasteful programs – that many are unwilling to even review – and eliminate them as a matter of government efficiency and cost effectiveness.”

Background: The Rural Utilities Service High Energy Cost Grant Program provides grants up to $5 million through the Department of Agriculture to assist communities whose energy costs exceed 275 percent of the national average by funding the construction, installation, and repair of energy distribution facilities. The Rural Utilities Services Electrical Loan Program (RUS) is a similar program with the same objective. Both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations have attempted to eliminate the high energy cost program. President Obama’s FY 2013 version of Cuts, Consolidations, and Savings noted that low-interest electric loans are available through the RUS to residents of rural areas served by the high energy cost program. The grants are available in Alaska, Hawaii, and several communities in certain other states, as well as in U.S. territories. Since FY 2002, high energy cost grants have received five earmarks totaling $103.5 million.

Bill text available here.

SOS #7: Antarctic Artists and Writers Program

Washington, D.C.—Recently, Rep. Matt Salmon (AZ-05) announced his seventh Shrink Our Spending (SOS) bill in a series of bills to be introduced over the next few months to cut wasteful and duplicative spending. After introduction of a bill to eliminate federal funding for the Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, Salmon released the following statement:

“For my seventh SOS bill, I introduced legislation to eliminate federal funding for the Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Since taking its current form in the 1980s, the Antarctic Artists & Writers program has taken various individuals and groups of artists, authors, science-fiction writers, sculptors, and painters to Antarctica.  While this program is certainly frivolous enough on its face, especially when we consider our nation’s fiscal situation, what I found even more outrageous is that nobody seems to know exactly how much this program costs the American taxpayer.  As I worked to learn more about this program, it quickly became apparent that the dollars spent on this and other programs within the National Science Foundation can be virtually impossible to account for.  In a time where our nation is over $17.5 trillion dollars in debt, it is shameful that we cannot figure out just how much taxpayer money we are spending on a particular program. This complete lack of transparency makes proper oversight impossible and that is unacceptable. As we consider the great fiscal challenges our nation continues to face, we need to make the tough choices that will get our spending under control and get our country back on track.”

Background: Since taking its current form in the 1980s, the Antarctic Artists & Writers Program has deployed nearly 100 poets, children’s authors, science-fiction writers, sculptors, painters, and other artists to Antarctica. Recently, it was reported that the National Science Foundation (NSF) spends tens of millions on its Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, which includes taxpayer-funded trips for poets to visit the Southern Hemisphere. In addition to supporting poets’ and musicians’ trips to the region, the Artists and Writers Program currently has $31.5 million in active grants, including $2.2 million to send 48 primary school teachers from Alaska to the Polar Regions, and $5.6 million to Columbia University to create “voicemails from the future” to warn against climate change.

Bill text available here.

SOS #8: Institute of Peace

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Matt Salmon (AZ-05) announced his eighth bill in a series of proposals to cut wasteful and duplicative federal spending.  After introduction of the latest bill, which would eliminate federal funding for the Institute of Peace (USIP), Salmon released the following statement:

“For my eighth SOS bill, I introduced legislation that would eliminate funding for the Institute of Peace.  The Institute of Peace was established by Congress in 1984 as an independent nonprofit corporation that receives millions in federal funds to achieve ambiguous goals such as ‘promote international peace and conflict resolution’ and ‘provide, promote, and support peace education and research programs.’  Nearly three years ago, the House voted in a bipartisan manner to defund this organization, which a former USIP board member noted ‘performs little worthwhile service to the taxpayer but rather that it forwards a political agenda.’  In an era of ever-growing federal spending, even the Obama Administration has sought to curtail the funds wasted on this program—requesting almost $2 million less for its budget in FY 2015.  The Department of State is best suited to advance efforts toward international peace through diplomatic channels and USAID can easily prioritize grant funding toward those objectives.  It is foolish to waste taxpayer dollars on a private organization with a redundant purpose and negligible efficacy.”

Background:  The Institute of Peace was established in 1984 to advance the cause of international peace and conflict resolution.  The Institute spends millions of dollars on hosting meetings to facilitate communication and negotiate between groups, primarily in areas where the U.S. military or State Department are already active.  The Institute also holds numerous symposia in Washington, D.C. on topics such as global innovation, legitimacy and peace processes, and the effects of Iranian sanctions.  The FY 2014 funding level for the Institute for Peace was $37 million. For FY 2015, the Administration has requested $35.3 million in funds for the organization.

Bill text available here.

SOS #9:U.N. Democracy Fund

Washington, D.C.— Today, Congressman Matt Salmon (AZ-05) announced his ninth bill in a series of proposals to cut wasteful and duplicative federal spending.  After introduction of the latest bill, which would eliminate U.S. funding for the United Nations Democracy Fund, Salmon released the following statement:

“As a leader in world affairs, the United States has a duty to provide support for fledgling democracies abroad.  We do so in direct concert with other nations in the international community through our Department of State and federally funded aid organizations, congruent with international policy priorities.

Contributing millions in taxpayer funds to an organization whose Executive Head has defined most of its core objectives to be the evaluation, accounting, and bureaucracy of the U.N. grant-making process is ill advised.  These funds could be better spent on American efforts, with more oversight by Congress and more accountability to the taxpayer.

Background: The United Nations Democracy Fund was created in 2005 after adoption of the 2005 World Summit Outcome Resolution by the United Nations General Assembly.  Provision 136 of the Resolution provided that “We welcome the establishment of a Democracy Fund at the United Nations” which would “renew our commitment to support democracy by strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to assist Member States upon their request.” Since its creation, the Executive Head of the Democracy Fund has defined the core objectives of the office as developing and supporting grants and assistance programs, submitting reports, and conducting “outreach activities.”

A 2010 U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services report noted that the fund “has experienced a consistent decrease in Member States’ contributions,” from $25 million in 2005-06 to $12.5 million in 2009.  In 2005, the United States provided $10 million to the fund, twice the amount of the second highest contributor, India.  In 2013, U.S. contributions accounted for over 38% of the fund’s backing.  The United States provided almost $4.6 million in FY 2013 and is estimated to give $4.2 million in fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

Bill text available here.

SOS #10: National Endowment for the Arts

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Matt Salmon (AZ-05) announced his tenth bill in a series of proposals to cut wasteful and duplicative federal spending.  After introduction of the latest bill, which would eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Salmon released the following statement:

“Here again, we see an example of the U.S. taxpayer burdened by an unaccountable, private entity that receives millions in taxpayer dollars annually to provide grants for artistic expression.  There is no question that artistic expression should not be sanctioned or censored by government.  At the same time, government should not compel taxpayers to subsidize works they find objectionable, such as the controversial work by Andres Serrano titled, Immersion (Piss Christ), which received $5,000 in taxpayer funds.

At a time when the United States is over 17 trillion dollars in debt, we should be looking to spend our money on causes and programs that unite and protect our nation.  The National Endowment for the Arts is an agency that, at best, inserts government into the freedom of artistic expression from which it should remain carefully separated.  At worst, the NEA favors certain works and excludes others, picking artistic winners and losers.”

Background: The National Endowment for the Arts was founded by the “National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965,” which included a congressional finding that “encouragement and support of national progress and scholarship in the humanities and the arts” was “primarily a matter for private and local initiative,” and that the purpose of the act was to “compliment, assist, and add to” local, state, and private programs encouraging artistic expression.  In 1966, the NEA received just under three million dollars in funding. 

The program was expanded in the 1970s and has received over 100 million dollars each year since 1978.  In 2014, the NEA is scheduled to receive over 146 million dollars in taxpayer funding.

Bill text available here.

SOS #11: National Endowment for the Humanities' Popular Romance Project

Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, Congressman Matt Salmon (AZ-05) announced his eleventh bill in a series of proposals to cut wasteful and duplicative federal spending.  After introduction of the latest bill, which would eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Popular Romance Project, Salmon released the following statement:

“Since I started my SOS program, I’ve found more than my share of pointless government programs hidden deep inside our spending bills.  When I first read about the Popular Romance Project, even I was surprised that the National Endowment for the Humanities would waste money on a project like this.

Romance novels are some of the most prolific literary works available, and for good reason; according to the Popular Romance Project’s own website, ‘Popular romance sells.’ The website goes on to highlight the strengths of the genre, saying ‘romance fiction generated $1.37 billion in sales in 2008,’ yet the NEH has still given nearly one million taxpayer dollars to the program since it was first created.

My question is simple: Why would we continue wasting our money on a pet project that gives nothing worthwhile to the taxpayer?”

Background: The National Endowment for the Humanities began funding the Popular Romance Project in 2008.  Intended to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction,” the project has spent over $914,000 in taxpayer funds.

Bill text available here.

SOS #12: National Endowment for the Humanities

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Matt Salmon (AZ-05) announced his twelfth bill in a series of proposals to cut wasteful and duplicative federal spending.  After introduction of the latest bill, which would eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Salmon released the following statement:

“After releasing my eleventh SOS bill last week, I took a closer look at where the NEH’s funding is spent and was shocked at the enormous waste this unaccountable non-profit facilitates with our tax dollars.  Just one of these programs is outrageous enough, but to think that we have spent hundreds of millions of dollars supporting projects most Americans would find frivolous at best is offensive.

“To waste taxpayer funds creating undergraduate courses to distract from the actual accumulation of knowledge by analyzing ‘the good life’ seems to run contrary to the NEH’s mission and demonstrates exactly why such excesses should be eliminated.  The NEH is free to pursue private funding for any programs it wishes.  In light of our astronomical debt, burdening the U.S. with these thoughtless projects is insulting.”

Background: The National Endowment for the Humanities was founded by the “National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965,” and requested over $154 million in taxpayer funds in fiscal year 2013.  The wasteful projects funded by NEH include:

  1. Comic Book Superheroes Documentary ($825,000) – This documentary superheroes project has received three federal grants over the past three years.

  2. Puppets Take Long Island ($150,000) – While the Muppets may have taken Manhattan, the federal government spent $150,000 to support Puppets Take Long Island, an eight-week long festival in Sag Harbor, New York.

  3. What is a Monster? ($24,999) – The development of an upper-level undergraduate seminar on the question, “What is a monster? -- from Antaeus to Zombies.”

  4. What is the Meaning of Life? ($24,953) – A website devoted to an interdisciplinary course which explores the question “What is the Meaning of Life?”

  5. What is Belief? ($24,562) – The development of a lower-division undergraduate course to investigate multiple perspectives on the question, “What is belief?”

  6. What is the Good Life and How Do I Live It? ($25,000) – The development of a seminar by four faculty members on the question, “What is the good life and how do I live it?”

Bill text available here.

SOS #13: Heritage Partnership Program

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Matt Salmon (AZ-05) announced his thirteenth bill in a series of proposals to cut wasteful and duplicative federal spending.  After introduction of the latest bill, which would eliminate funding for the National Park Service’s Heritage Partnership Program (HPP), Rep. Salmon released the following statement:

“At a time when this Administration locks American citizens out of their own national parks, it is important that we simplify the National Park Service’s mission in order to save money and maintain unfettered access to public land.  The National Heritage Partnership Program was created in 1984 when the first National Heritage Area (NHA) was created in Illinois and Michigan.  Initially designed as a public-private initiative that would help the establishment of fledgling, locally-supported heritage lands, the HPP now wastes millions of dollars annually on parks that have demonstrated their inability to sustain themselves and parks that were fraudulently awarded NHA status.”

Background: Since the Heritage Partnership Program was created in 1984, Congress has appropriated more than $150 million for National Heritage Area grants.  Even in the wake of significant cuts to the HPP, the Obama Administration went further to advocate for cutting this program’s funding by half. In its Terminations, Reductions and Savings report, the Administration admits that “since 1984, when the first NHA was designated, 17 areas reached or nearly reached their original sunset dates, but received extensions and continue to receive funding” despite their failure to become self-sufficient.  The report also pointed out that a number of sites have been authorized which do not warrant designation.  Current appropriations for the HPP total $18.3 million dollars.

Bill text available here.