- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Freshman Rep. Ben Quayle said Wednesday that a Government Accountability Office report on redundancy and waste in the federal government shows how much more work Congress has to do to “change the culture” in Washington.

Appearing on “America’s Morning News” radio program Wednesday, the Arizona Republican said the House vote on Tuesday to approve a bill to fund the government for two weeks is the first step in a process to rein in spending.

“There is a lot of duplication. There is a lot of waste in Washington. And that GAO report really just shows it,” he said on the show, which is affiliated with The Washington Times. “And the thing is, they’ve known it for a long time.

“Finally we’re trying to change the culture in Washington. It may take a little time. It’s kind of a refreshing thing that we’re doing,” he said. “Instead of talking about how much we’re going to be spending, we’re actually talking about cutting.”

The nonpartisan GAO report released Wednesday found as much as $200 billion in annual federal spending on duplicate programs and redundant federal agencies.

Congressional Republicans are seizing the survey by the congressional watchdog agency to bolster their arguments for deeper cuts in a swath of federal programs. The Senate is set to vote on the two-week spending measure Wednesday.

“I don’t think most Americans are surprised to hear that Washington is wasting so much money,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said ahead of the Senate vote. “I do think some people might be surprised at how rampant it is and, frankly, the sheer idiocy of some of the waste we’ve been tolerating around here.”

Mr. Quayle, 33, has a unique perspective on Washington, having spent a chunk of his childhood in the area. His father served first as a congressman and senator from Indiana, then as the vice president for George H.W. Bush. He recalls accepting jelly beans at the White House from President Reagan.

He said the city has changed tremendously since his childhood. “It shows you how big the federal government has gotten,” he said.

When the conversation turned to the media fascination with the bizarre recent remarks of actor Charlie Sheen, the first-term congressman offered a mild critique: “Both the media and Charlie seem to be using it for their own advantages. But it’s sad to see someone going through this, because he’s obviously got a lot of issues. Hopefully, he can go get some help.”