GOP Freshmen Congressmen Want to Donate $1.5M in Unused Office Funds to Pay Down Debt

By Patrick Burke | February 2, 2012 | 5:36 PM EST

U.S. House of Representatives. (AP Photo)

( - Eight Republican freshmen members of Congress are asking House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to donate nearly $1.5 million in unused money allocated for running their congressional offices.

According to the letter submitted to Speaker Boehner by the eight Republican freshmen, each representative wants to allocate their unused Members Representational Allowance (MRA) funds to the Treasury to reduce the $15.3 trillion national debt.

“Under your leadership, the House of Representatives has taken substantial steps to reduce deficits and address the debt. It is now time for the House to put the taxpayers’ money where our mouth is and dedicate our remaining MRA funds to decreasing the national debt.”

At a press conference Wednesday, Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) said the congressmen see the move as as a constructive first step to paying down the national debt.

“I’m joined today by many of my freshmen colleagues, who not only understand the seriousness of our nation’s debt problem, but have also spent the past 13 months fighting against it,” Landry said. “What you see today is what happens when you match with your action with your rhetoric.”

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The congressmen acknowledge that the amount that will go to reduce the debt is miniscule.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) put into perspective the amount of unused funds he put aside -- $145,000 – which is approximately the same amount needed to operate Air Force One for one hour.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), meanwhile, acknowledged that there will be those who accuse him and his colleagues of  “grandstanding” by taking this action – rather than large scale actions -- to curb federal spending and pay off the U.S. debt.

“I can hear the pundits saying, ‘Oh these freshmen, they’re just grandstanding.’ No we’re not. We’re raising awareness to the fact that we are ‘walking the walk,’” Duncan said.

There is already a procedure in place that allocates unused funds from MRAs to a shared fund for two years, before going to the Treasury. The letter acknowledges this, and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) said it is the reason why the eight sent the letter to Boehner.

“As of now, this money will go into some fund someplace and it may end up going to pay down the debt at some point in the future -- and it may not,” Mulvaney said. “And that’s the bigger issue here.”

The congressmen are requesting that Boehner change this procedure so the money they managed to save on running their offices can immediately go towards eliminating the national debt.

Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) said the GOP freshmen want to “lead by example” and “lead the charge” in alleviating government spending.

Yoder stated the collective desire of the eight GOP freshmen to buck the tendency of bureaucratic agencies and government entities “to spend every appropriated dollar” to ensure the same amount of funding for the next fiscal year.

Moreover, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) conveyed the significance of the large national debt and said there is no issue more important right now.

“Nothing else matters this year,” Walsh said. “There’s going to be a lot of noise, a lot of clutter in this election year…this government is broke, this country is on the road to bankruptcy, and if we don’t so something about that pretty darn quickly, our kids and our grandkids will never forgive us.”

The move by GOP representatives comes just as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a projection that the national debt will jump to $21.7 trillion by 2022 with current policies in place, a 47 percent increase from its $14.8 trillion total at the end of 2011.

Currently, the national debt stands at $15.3 trillion and the U.S. federal government deficit totals over $1.3 trillion.