House Hopes To Adjourn This Week

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

( - Even though some details still need to be worked out, many House leaders are predicting that all 13 spending bills will be finished this week allowing Congress to adjourn for the year.

House GOP leaders claim they have reached an agreement with the White House on an across the board one percent spending cut, but Democrats are apparently downplaying such talk.

One House Republican explained why a one percent spending cut is needed as he denounced what he called "fraud and clerical errors within the federal government."

Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-NV) in a House floor speech Monday cited a General Accounting Office (GAO) report issued last week of a voluntary survey that GAO took of nine federal agencies. "That survey showed that the US government lost $19.1 billion due to fraud and clerical errors last year. And yet some of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle (Democratic) still maintain that our federal government cannot reduce wasteful government spending by one percent."

"Based on these (GAO) findings," according to Gibbons, "common sense tells us that we can reduce wasteful spending by almost $20 billion and probably even more. We can reduce, eliminate the amount wasted on costly overpayments by simply addressing the fraud and minimizing clerical errors. Wasteful spending in Washington does exist and it needs to be stopped."

Gibbons also said, "My question is this. Is it too much to expect efficiency and accountability in the federal government?"

Additional action taken by Congress includes last week's approval of the foreign operations spending bill. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) on Friday said he was delighted that the House approved the $15.3 billion spending bill. The bill had been held up by negotiations between Republican leaders and the White House for several days.

However, foreign aid is still a hot topic among many House members. Rep. James Traficant (D-OH) denounced aid to North Korea Monday in a House floor speech.

"The biggest recipient of American aid in East Asia is not our friends, the Philippines, South Korea or East Timor," according to Traficant, "the big bucks go to a brutal dictator called North Korea. Unbelievable, North Korea got $650 million from us. Now, if that's enough to prop up communism."

Traficant went on to say, "Not only can North Korea launch 100 missiles at America, North Korea is scheduled to get over a billion dollars in aid from our taxpayers next year. Who dreamed up this policy? Mao Tse-Tung. North Korea will not be building schools and hospital nor peace academies with our money."

Last week, a House advisory group on North Korea selected by House Speaker Hastert issued a report about American policy toward North Korea.

The report said, "US aid to North Korea has grown from zero to more than $270 million annually, totaling $645 million over the last five years. Based on current trends, that total will likely exceed $1 billion next year. During that same time, North Korea developed missiles capable of striking the United States and became a major drug trafficking and currency counterfeiting nation."