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ICYMI: We must make work-from-home federal bureaucrats accountable to Americans


By: Sen. Joni Ernst

As published in New York Post

There’s no denying Washington’s administrative state is unresponsive to the needs of real Americans.

The worst part: Federal workers aren’t even showing up to work!

Thousands of veterans’ calls seeking mental-health services are going unanswered, travelers are forced to cancel trips due to passport delays at the State Department, and seniors are facing increased wait times or unanswered calls altogether at the Social Security Administration.

I guess it’s because bureaucrats are too busy taking bubble baths during work meetings or playing golf on the taxpayer’s dime.

Even President Joe Biden knows this must be addressed.

In his 2022 State of the Union, he pledged that “the vast majority of federal workers will once again work in person.”

But here we are — a year and a half later and federal offices remain a ghost town.

At least 75% of the office space at most federal agencies’ headquarters is not being used.

Taxpayers are picking up the cost of maintaining these mostly empty buildings.

I’ve had enough. That’s why I’m requiring “teleworking” federal bureaucrats to show up and investigating how many tax dollars bureaucrats phoning it in from far away while getting DC pay are abusing.

My investigation would create accountability to adjust bureaucrats’ location-based salaries for those who have relocated out of Washington.

The Government Accountability Office’s effort to correct this pay disparity benefiting remote workers was met with union demands ensuring the higher pay would continue, at least temporarily.

Bureaucrats are trying to keep higher salaries while living in lower-cost communities — and the GAO has just agreed to cave. This is taxpayer theft.

But there is far more to be done to make Washington accountable to the people it supposedly serves.

In less than three years, the Biden administration has imposed almost $617 billion in regulatory costs on American businesses.

That’s $340 billion more than the previous two administrations combined.

And who is bearing the brunt? The very households, family farms and small businesses these unelected bureaucrats are bogging down.

It’s time to cut the red tape and drain the swamp.

Step one: Bring decision-making closer to the American people.

Let’s uproot the headquarters of federal agencies from the mire and mud of the DC swamp and lay a strong foundation across America and among the people most affected by agency decisions.

Maybe this will finally make those creating the rules more accountable to the hardworking Americans who have to live under them.

Step two: Rein in the unaccountable, unelected bureaucracy.

There’s a Supreme Court ruling that has required courts to side with federal bureaucrats over the American people for loose interpretations of the laws. This insulates bureaucrats and has caused a massive expansion of the regulatory state.

So I’m asking the court to overrule it.

Allowing those who are not accountable to the voters to make the rules and regulations Americans have to live by has made life worse for our citizens and created policies that destroy jobs. This has to end.

Step three: Ensure the policies in place help — not hurt — Americans.

The unjustified costs of old regulations require a new approach.

For too long, our nation’s job creators have been trying to comply with a swath of outdated, duplicative or obsolete rules that hamper their growth and creativity.

Many of these regulations require small-business owners to spend their time filling in the blanks on stacks of needless paperwork rather than filling in jobs.

My Searching for and Cutting Regulations that are Unnecessarily Burdensome (SCRUB) Act would force Washington to stop and consider the real impact of existing major regulations felt by families across the country — and repeal what isn’t working, so our small businesses can focus on doing what they do best: innovating and creating jobs.

Those in DC need a constant reminder: We don’t work for them; rather, Washington is supposed to be working for us.

Biden’s bureaucrats are writing regulations and bogging down households, family farms and small businesses with arbitrary rules, and the American people have had enough.

That’s why I’m working to get government beyond the beltway bubble, scrub regulations and hold unelected bureaucrats accountable.

Washington, consider this your final wake-up call!

The swamp is about to be drained.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is ranking member of the Small Business Committee.

As published in New York Post.