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Lankford Joins League of Waste Watchers

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., released his first annual "Federal Fumbles" report on government "waste."(Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. James Lankford released his first book of "wasteful" federal programs and regulations on Monday, joining a group of Republican senators with similar reports.  

But instead of trying to outdo his colleagues, the Oklahoma Republican called on all members of Congress to come up with their own list and look for common ground to cut spending. "This is not just us and what we're trying to do, we're encouraging every other office to take this on as well," Lankford said.  

Lankford released what he said would be an annual report to focus attention on the national debt — which stands at around $18.7 trillion and is rising — and suggested that many of the identified cuts could help pay for some spending priorities.  

"I'm concerned we're going to lose our focus on debt and spending," Lankford told reporters on Monday. "There are a lot of national issues that we face right now, all of them very important to us. But the debt issue still remains."  

The report singled out a $43 million natural gas station in Afghanistan, a $375,000 National Science Foundation study on the dating habits of seniors and $17.7 billion worth of "improper" tax breaks claimed under the Earned Income Tax Credit.  

Lankford also suggested remedies for every cut. The book even gave kudos to the federal government for its efforts to reduce spending, such as the Justice Department cutting its conferencing budget by approximately two-thirds over the last few years.  

"This is not just a matter of all complaints and no solutions," Lankford said. "There are some things that are happening correctly."  

The book cited 100 programs and regulations, targeting $105 billion in federal spending and an estimated $800 billion in regulatory costs to the economy. It serves as a supplement to the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act, a Lankford-sponsored bill reported out of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in May, that has nine cosponsors, including three Democrats. If passed, it would impose on the Office of Management and Budget greater reporting requirements of federal spending.  

Lankford joins Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Dan Coats of Indiana and Jeff Flake of Arizona in efforts to identify government waste. Lankford's predecessor, Republican Tom Coburn, also periodically issued a similar report.