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In the Spirit of March Madness, Ernst, Braun, Lankford, and Paul Participate in ‘Tournament of Government Waste’

Each Senator has four entries competing to take the title of ‘Waste of the Year’

WASHINGTON—In the spirit of March Madness, Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and her fellow lawmakers, Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), James Lankford (R-OK), and Rand Paul (R-KY), are participating in the Tournament of Government Waste. The organization Pursuit will be hosting the tournament that will feature four entries from each of the senators. The public will get to vote on which entry will take home the title of Waste of the Year.

First round of voting is open NOW and closes tomorrow at 12:00am EST. There will be four rounds until the champion is crowned next Monday, April 1. You can find all of the entries here and vote here.

As part of her effort to hold Washington accountable and to “make ‘em squeal,” Senator Ernst has chosen four entries for this year’s Tournament of Government Waste. Team Ernst’s line-up is below:

1.     The Cat’s Meow

Cats that are pampered with treats and classical music every day are less likely to poop outside of the litter box or cough up hairballs. This pawsh study may sound hissterical, except the research was supported with National Institute of Health (NIH) grants totaling $1.3 million, which is likely to make taxpayers furious.

2.     Game Glitches

Classic Nintendo video games like Super Mario Bros. are hard, unless players cheat by taking advantage of programming glitches, according to a study funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Super Mario World, for example, can be beaten in less than three minutes “by performing a sequence of seemingly arbitrary and nonsensical actions, which fools the game into thinking the game is won.”  Supported with funding from three NSF grants totaling more than $1.6 million, these researchers are literally playing games with taxpayer money.


3.     Gambling Pigeons

Pigeons were trained to press, or rather peck, their luck on a bird-sized slot machine, featuring flashing lights just like in a real casino and pellets as the payout, as part of a study to test the birds’ “affinity for gambling.” Supported with grants from NIH totaling nearly $1.3 million, the poker-faced pigeons were found to behave like “pathological gamblers.” With the national debt now surmounting $22 trillion, it is not worth going for broke on more of these bird-brain studies.


4.     Elvis Impersonator

An Elvis sighting reported in Oklahoma inspired a study on false perception funded by a $90,000 NIH grant with additional support from the National Science Foundation. The Elvis impersonator in question was a sour cream and onion flavored potato chip. While the researchers concluded, “the potato chip really does look like Elvis!,” taxpayers may look at both the potato chip and the study with suspicious minds.