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Ernst Reforms to Make ‘Cents’ of Washington’s Wasteful Spending Included in President’s Proposal

The Iowa senator is pushing a comprehensive package to fix the broken budget process and create more transparency for Iowa taxpayers

WASHINGTON – On the heels of the release of the president’s budget—which included Ernst-led reforms to cut wasteful spending—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), known as the Senate’s leading foe of wasteful government spending, is proposing a comprehensive package of much-needed and commonsense reforms to fix Washington’s broken budget process and create more transparency and accountability for taxpayers across the country.

“There’s really no way to sugar coat it: Washington’s budget process is broken,” said Senator Ernst. “The president submits his budget, the House tears it up (no pun intended), and fails to pass its own budget. Then Congress kicks the can down the road on funding the government before cramming through a budget busting bill at the 11th hour. This dysfunctional process and lack of transparency allows wasteful spending to continue year after year.

“If hardworking Iowa families have to manage their budgets, we should expect the same from government. I’m glad to see this year the president’s budget includes my ideas to curb wasteful, excessive spending. Building off that effort, I’m putting forward this package of reforms to join the president in urging Congress to actually address Washington’s spending addiction, get our budget process back on track, and ensure Iowans’ understand exactly how their hard-earned dollars are being spent.”


The MAKE CENTS Act—or the Making Americans Know about Excessive spending through Commonsense Efforts to Notice and Target Shenanigans Act—is a package of commonsense reforms to Washington’s budget process that will create more transparency and accountability.

This comprehensive legislation combines the following Ernst-led reforms:

  • The Billion Dollar Boondoggle Act – Requires an annual report listing every government funded project that is $1 billion or more over budget or five years or more behind schedule.
  • The COST Act – Requires every project supported with federal funds to include a price tag that is easily available for taxpayers. Both the dollar amount and the percentage of the overall budget for any project, program, or activity would be disclosed in all public documents. It would also provide the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with the authority to withhold a portion of a grant from a recipient that fails to disclose their costs.
  • The End-of-Year Fiscal Responsibility Act – Seeks to eliminate the “use-it or lose-it” incentive many government agencies feel at the end of the year. It limits an agency’s spending in the last two months of the fiscal year to no more than the average it spent per month during the preceding 10 months.
  • No Budget, No Recess – No recess for Congress if they have not approved a budget by April 15 or passed all appropriation bills by August 1. If they fail to meet those deadlines, the House and Senate would be unable to adjourn for more than 8 hours, no funds would be available for travel, and two quorum calls would be held per day, ensuring lawmakers stay at work in Washington.
  • No Budget, No Pay – No pay for Congress if they fail to meet the statutory deadline for passing a budget resolution or fail to fund the government by October 1.