Sen. Portman discusses wasteful spending

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 2, 2014

In a conference call with media members from across Ohio on Thursday afternoon, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman discussed the wasting of federal dollars.

According to Portman, the federal government spends over $1.6 billion a year to keep and maintain underutilized federal buildings.

“There are over 77,000 federal government buildings throughout the country that are not being fully utilized and some are completely vacant,” Portman said. “In a country that has a $17 trillion debt, unnecessary spending such as this for unused or partially used buildings is unacceptable.”

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Last year Sen. Portman along with Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) introduced a bill that would force the General Services Administration to keep a record of all the properties owned by federal agencies, as well as review which of these buildings are unused or underutilized.

“The bill, if passed, would require agencies to develop a streamedlined effort to better manage these buildings,” Portman said.

The bipartisan piece of legislation was passed out of committee but has not been considered by the full Senate to date. But, why need a bill? Why not just sale or demolish the unnecessary property? Portman says it’s because a series of roadblocks have been put in place that makes that nearly impossible.

“It’s a burdensome and lengthy process,” he said. “Certain barriers have been enacted unintentionally that make the process of unloading these buildings extremely difficult. If our bill passes then we will have a better plan on how to go about selling or tearing down the buildings we don’t need.”

Portman also took a moment to discuss what some may consider hypocrisy in his views of wasteful spending. Portman has vocally backed the continuation of the federal spending to keep the tank plant in Lima fully operational. Some economist and many military leaders have stated that the plant is no longer necessary and a waste of money.

“In 2017 or 2018 they (the military) will need a new tank,” Portman said. “We’ve analyzed the cost effectiveness of shutting down the Lima plant and then starting it back up when these new tanks are needed. It’s a better use of the taxpayers’ money to just keep up with the modernization of our current tanks.”

Portman briefly discussed Saeed Abedini, a duel Iranian/American citizen who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2012 due to his Christian faith.