Citing the hundreds of thousands of wasted pages of government printing each year that go straight from delivery to congressional recycling bins, the House voted Tuesday to tell the Government Printing Office to cut it out.
In the second installment of what House Republicans have vowed will be weekly votes on specific spending, the House voted 399-0 to free GPO from old rules that require each member of Congress be given a printed version of any bill he or she signs onto as an original co-sponsor.
"Too many people in Washington don't seem to care about the dollar amount unless it has a 'B' or a 'T' after it," said Rep. Christopher Lee, the New York Republican who sponsored the change, referring to the billions and trillions of dollars often dealt with on Capitol Hill. "That's the type of mentality that needs to change."
The legislation will still need Senate approval and President Obama's signature to become law, but for now it marks another spending cut House Republicans have pushed through their chamber this month.
It also marks an about-face from last year, when Democrats controlled the House and turned back a procedural move by the GOP to try to force a vote on printing cuts.
Though all legislation is now posted online, and often is available there well before the printed versions, GPO is required to print hundreds of copies of bills and amendments that end up going to waste.
For example, last year GPO spent $78,869.70 to print copies of Senate Democrats' 2,000-page, end-of-year spending proposal, even though Democrats never even brought the measure to the floor. That came to a rate of 6.3 cents per copy page.
Sponsors of the new bill to limit printing said It's unclear exactly how much money would be saved, and no official cost estimate has been released by the Congressional Budget Office.
A spokesman for the Government Printing Office didn't return a message seeking comment.
Republicans halted all regular legislative business last week, which meant they didn't hold a weekly spending cuts vote.
In their first week in office at the beginning of January, they passed a resolution cutting House expenses by 5 percent, which amounted to savings of about $35 million.
Since that resolution applied to internal House operations, it did not need Senate approval. Tuesday's bill, though, will require a Senate vote. A spokesman for the Senate Rules Committee did not return a message seeking comment.
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Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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