Cortez Masto, Flake Move to Eliminate Wasteful Government Spending

December 7, 2018 by TWN Staff

On the Chopping Block: Paying Federal Loans in Peanuts, Federal Grants for Robot Bartenders, Agricultural Subsidies for Bug-Based Foods

On Wednesday, just weeks before the 115th Congress comes to a close, Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) launched a bipartisan effort to eliminate wasteful government spending. Named the Removing Excessive Dollars to Uproot and Cut Expensive (REDUCE) Government Waste Act, this legislation would cut some of the more bizarre items in the federal budget, including agricultural subsidies for bug-based foods and federal grants for robot bartenders. The bipartisan duo of senators asserted the legislation would cut wasteful spending and save the federal government tens of millions of dollars each year.

“With the national debt standing at more than $21 trillion dollars, we must begin to eliminate wasteful spending happening in the federal government,” said Senator Cortez Masto.

“This legislation will save tens of millions of dollars that could go towards paying down our national debt, supporting our veterans, or funding important medical research,” she added.

The legislation would also prohibit the repayment of loans with peanuts, a program first instituted in the 2014 Farm Bill to stabilize the American peanut industry.

“It’s just nuts to shell out millions of dollars to subsidize surplus piles of peanuts, bug-based foods, and robobartenders. With $1 trillion being added to the national debt every year, it especially bugs taxpayers that all they hear from Washington about cutting waste is crickets. The REDUCE Government Waste Act gives Congress a starting point by saving millions,” added Senator Flake.

Following are additional details outlining provisions in the bill.

Prohibit The Repayment of Loans with Peanuts: This bill would end a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program which accepts peanuts as payment for federal loans. This program cost American taxpayers a whopping $13.6 million in 2016 and $31.5 million in 2017.

Prohibit Agricultural Subsidies for Bug-Based Foods: This bill would prohibit the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from using funds to research the development and taste-testing of insect-based foods for human consumption. It would also prevent funds from being utilized to research cricket farming. The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture spent more than $1.3 million in grants for companies to research taste-testing of insects and the costs of farming crickets.

Permanently Eliminate Grants for Robot Bartenders: This bill would permanently prohibit the Department of Defense from using funds to research the development of beerbots and robot bartenders. The Department of Defense and National Science Foundation recently gave grants, with one worth nearly $175,000 to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that was then utilized to work on robots that served beer. However, the concept of robot bartenders has already been extensively researched by and involved in the private industry. For example, in 2014, Royal Caribbean cruise ships featured the “Makr Shakr,” a robot developed by MIT that would prepare customers’ drink orders.

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