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Lawmakers seek to cap spending on oil paintings

Dec. 13, 2013 at 2:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill that would cap excessive spending on oil paintings of government officials.

The bill, called the "Responsible Use of Taxpayer Dollars for Portraits Act," was unveiled Thursday by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Shaheen's office said in a release.

Under the bill, only $20,000 of taxpayer money would be allowed to be spent on commissioned oil paintings of government officials. If a painting costs more than $20,000, other funds will have to be used to pay for them.

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has spent nearly $400,000 to commission portraits of agency directors and Cabinet secretaries, ABC News and the Washington Times reported.

"At a time when vital services and programs are facing cuts, we need to be looking at every way we can stop excessive spending practices in Washington," Shaheen said. "Official portraits should be done in a way that protects taxpayers, as we do in New Hampshire."

"Hardworking taxpayers shouldn't foot the bill for lavish official portraits, especially when government officials spend more on paintings of themselves than some Americans make in a year," Coburn said. "This bill reins in excessive spending on such portraits and protects taxpayers from funding waste."

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