- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Sen. Joni Ernst, who promised voters she would make Washington’s big spenders “squeal” like pigs, announced legislation Tuesday to curtail the end-of-year buying sprees that end up leaving taxpayers on the hook for fine china, good lobster and other extravagant expenses.

Ms. Ernst, Iowa Republican, said agencies should have a cap on how much they can spend in the last two months of a fiscal year.

She said the goal is to curb the “use it or lose it” mentality that affects budgeteers, leaving them convinced that if they don’t find a way to spend every last dollar in their accounts, Congress will figure they had too much to begin with and cut their budgets in the future.

That mentality leads to a surge in lobster and crab purchases in the final weeks of the year, according to a report by Open the Books, a watchdog. The group tracked federal contracts for last September, the final month of fiscal year 2018, and found it surged from about $3.2 million a day in the middle of the month to more than $10 billion near the end of the month.

Other splurges included a $12,000 foosball table, $53,000 for fine china, more than $300,000 on alcohol and a $1.2 million sponsorship for a professional bull-riding circuit, the senator’s office said.

“Billion-dollar binge buying is no way to budget,” Ms. Ernst said in announcing her legislation.

She said limiting spending in the final two months to the monthly average for the previous 10 months would help keep purchases honest.

Ms. Ernst was elected to the Senate in 2014 with a promise to cut waste. She crafted a famous ad in which she said she are up “castrating hogs on an Iowa farm,” which she said made her the perfect politician to cut pork inside the beltway.

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