Republicans and Democrats in the House are calling for billions of dollars in cuts to federal travel expenses, and say if federal officials need to reach far away people, they can try using the phone or meeting up in video conferences.
According to Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., cutting federal travel in half would save $5 billion a year.
Fitzpatrick introduced the Stay in Place, Cut the Waste Act along with four other Republicans and six Democrats. His bill would require a 50 percent in federal travel budgets by 2017, or short of that, the “greatest reduction in such expenses” deemed feasible by the Office of Management and Budget.
“Government agencies spend billions of dollars each year traveling around the country and around the world for meetings and conferences with little oversight on the necessity or importance of the travel,” Fitzpatrick’s office claimed in a summary of his bill.
Fitzpatrick said that in 2011, the government spent almost $15 billion on travel expenses. That number fell after President Obama issued an executive order calling for reduced spending on travel.
Still, the government spends billions each year, which Fitzpatrick said is not too much, but also increases the carbon footprint of the government.
Travel by officials has been a point of criticism for both parties over the last few years. The General Services Administration famously spent more than $800,000 on a conference in Las Vegas, Nev., in 2010, an event that embarrassed the agency and led to the indictment of one former GSA official.
But other agencies have also been criticized for traveling too much, including the IRS.