North Country Congressman Bill Owens is among 41 other Democrats, one independent and 37 Republican lawmakers who have unveiled legislation they hope will make the government more efficient and set a starting point for better relations among legislators of different parties.
The group, No Labels’ Congressional Problem Solvers (http://www.nolabels.org), have put forward a legislative package that represents a starting point for future bipartisan cooperation.
Owens, a Plattsburgh Democrat representing northern New York in the House of Representatives, is a co-sponsor of seven of the group’s nine policy recommendations.
“Working together on this legislative package has shown us that we aren’t as divided as people think,” Owens said. "All of us want an efficient government, and we know that can only happen when members of Congress start working together.”
Owens was an inaugural member of the No Labels Congressional Problem Solvers. Since January, the group’s ranks have swelled from 24 to 81 and include 73 congressmen and congresswomen and eight senators. The government efficiency legislative package is the group’s first legislative initiative.
The seven Owens co-sponsored pieces of legislation are as follows:
1) H.R. 310 and S. 124: “No Budget, No Pay”
If Congress cannot pass a budget and all annual spending bills on time, this bill would prevent lawmakers from receiving a pay check until they do.
2.) H.R. 2506 and S. 1233 “Don’t Duplicate, Consolidate”
This bill would implement the Government Accountability Office’s 2013 recommendations for the elimination of duplicate government agencies and programs. Owens recently introduced his own legislation which would implement the Government Accountability Office’s recommendations from the last three years. The GAO has outlined more than $100 Billion in government savings which can be accomplished through government efficiency.
3.) H.R. 2686: “No Adding, No Padding”
This bill would stop assuming automatic year-to-year spending increases in agency budgets.
4.) H.R. 2590 and S. 1296: “21st Century Healthcare for Heroes”
This bill would merge the electronic health records of the Department of Defense with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
5.) H.R. 2643: “Stay in Place, Cut the Waste”
This bill would cut 50 percent of government agency travel and replace it with video conferencing.
6.) H.R. 2689 and S. 1308: “Wasted Energy, Wasted Dollars”
This bill would reduce energy waste in federal buildings by incentivizing private companies to identify energy savings and paying them with the dollars they save, instead of taxpayer money.
7.) H.R. 2694 and S. 1304 “Buy Smarter and Save”
This bill would enforce strategic sourcing so that separate divisions within a single federal agency do not make independent contracts for common items.