House votes to limit junket spending

Sept. 11, 2012 at 3:32 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. House voted Tuesday to restrict spending on federal agency conferences and limit the number of workers who can participate in them.

There was bipartisan support for the Government Spending Accountability Act, which limits spending on conferences to $500,000 per meeting, The Hill reported.

The voice vote in favor of the bill followed a brief debate, the Capitol Hill publication said. Sponsors, including Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., said the bill was intended to prevent the kind of spending the General Services Administration reported for its 2010 conference in Las Vegas, when it spent more than $1 million.

"I think we can all agree that all of this spending is outrageous and unacceptable," Walsh said during the debate.

"The GSA incident tarnished the reputation of government workers who dedicate their lives to public service," Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., said. "This legislation ... would prevent a few reckless and selfish individuals from engaging in activities that discredit the entire federal workforce."

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J. -- the only House member to speak in opposition to the bill -- said Congress should not limit government workers' ability to attend conferences and meetings because such events help them do better work, The Hill said.

"We should be spending more on international conferences," Holt said. "We should be spending more on national conferences."

The bill moves to the Senate, where it could be approved relatively quickly, The Hill said.

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