GOP Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) has been calling out the federal government’s wasteful and nontransparent spending ever since voters put her into office, and now she’s drafting legislation in hopes of stopping it.
“Iowans sent Senator Ernst to Congress with a specific mission: to cut wasteful spending and to make Washington squeal,” her office told IJR. “Since she was first sworn into office, the Senator has prioritized identifying and putting an end to radical wasteful spending through her monthly ‘Squeal Award.’”
Last month, the senator highlighted the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which squandered $1.3 million in taxpayer money on ten studies that involved pampering cats back in 2011. According to her office, it’s difficult to determine if these studies have continued over time because many “are hidden behind firewalls requiring a fee to access.”
Not only did taxpayers foot the bill for cats to listen to classical music all day in an effort to determine if it has an effect on their behavior, but Ernst also believes NIH is failing to comply with a federal law “requiring disclosure of the cost to taxpayers for a federally funded project.”
“Based upon our office’s own reviews, we believe there is widespread disregard of this law by both the grantees and the agencies,” her office said before revealing that she’s planning to do something about it:
“Senator Ernst is currently drafting legislation to require all projects funded by the federal government — not just NIH studies — to publicly disclose the price to taxpayers. When transparency is not enough to deter waste, we will consider other options, including bills and amendments, to target wasteful and unnecessary spending.”
This isn’t the first time NIH and other federal agencies have come under scrutiny for wasteful spending on animal experiments without transparently disclosing the nature and costs to the public — and the experiments don’t always involve pampering the animals.
As taxpayer watchdog White Coat Waste Project has worked to uncover, the federal government has a long history of performing cruel and expensive tests on animals on the taxpayer’s dime. It’s also not the first time experiments conducted by such agencies have been called into legal question.
The group’s president and founder Anthony Bellotti reacted to Ernst’s squeal award in a statement to IJR:
“Curiosity didn’t kill these cats, but it did squander over a million dollars of Americans’ hard-earned money at a time when the government’s spending problems are worse than ever. Kudos to Senator Ernst for leading the charge to let the cat out of the bag about $15 billion in secretive and wasteful taxpayer-funded animal experiments that are opposed by most Americans.”
In addition to Ersnt’s pending bill, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is also “reviewing the lack of compliance with the federal transparency law, requiring all NIH studies and grants to disclose the cost to taxpayers, and is expected to issue a report of findings within the next month or two,” her office noted.