“It’s the contrast in how the two committees got started in the Congresses that explains the difference,” Hill said. “They didn’t have their first committee hearing until Feb. 26, 2009. By that time with Mr. Issa as chairman, he had already had eight hearings.”
The Judiciary Committee spent about $1.8 million through March, about $44,000 more than the committee had spent by that time in the 111th Congress.
A large chunk of that increase comes from database subscriptions. The committee paid for two-year subscriptions to LexisNexis, Westlaw and CQ (a sister publication of Roll Call), among other magazines and newspapers, whereas the previous committee expensed subscriptions monthly.
“The majority of these different expenses are transition costs,” a committee staffer said. “We frontloaded as much of our costs as we could.”
A few committees are so far spending drastically less than their predecessors. Both the Natural Resources and the Education and Workforce committees are spending less by at least 25 percent.
The Natural Resources Committee has spent $410,000 less over the first three months of 2011. But that reflects more than anything the process of staffing up a committee after a transition, a spokesman for Chairman Doc Hastings said.
The Washington Republican “has always been frugal with taxpayer dollars, including in his personal office,” spokeswoman Crystal Feldman said. “However, part of the committee’s savings in the first three months reflects the ongoing process of hiring new staff.”