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Posted: 3:51 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, 2013
By Scott MacFarlane
WASHINGTON, D.C. —
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are cracking down on federal workers that are enjoying lavish conferences and parties all on the taxpayer dime. The fallout comes after a 9 Investigation found tax money was used to pay for the trips. The U.S. General Services Administration spent nearly $1 million for an employee party in Vegas. The VA spent tens of thousands for a conference for employees near Disney World, they even shuttled workers to the resorts. A congressional aide tipped Eyewitness News off this week about a new crackdown and said it is quote, "Right up your alley." The proposed law would force government agencies that spend too much on travel and events to return some of their money to the U.S. treasury. If an agency spends more than $600 a day per employee for a conference, money must be returned. That is how much was spent on a Vegas party staged by the U.S. General Services Administration in 2010, which included fine meals, gifts, entertainment and even a mind reader. Despite promises of a crackdown, Ohio Republican Jim Jordan said the U.S. Government has staged 183 even more expensive conferences in the months since. "If you go over what the extravagant conference spent, if you exceed that, you have to give the money back and the taxpayers have to be made whole," said Jordan. Some federal agencies have reduced conference costs recently. But the congressman and transportation official had a heated exchange this week over whether further reductions are needed. Agencies defend a lot of the conferences as vital, including the transportation department which said its events include safety lessons for air traffic controllers. The newly proposed law cracking down on government conferences has Democratic and Republican support, but has yet to be approved by the U.S. House.
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