Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, Update
Congressional Update from Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack
Last week, I introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to abolish the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), which is overseen by the Department of Justice but funded, for many years, by the Department of Defense.
I first became aware of the problems at NDIC as part of my fight against drug abuse– especially among our children. Frankly, I was shocked to learn about the center’s inefficiencies and duplication of efforts and decided to do something about it. Every dollar squandered at NDIC is a dollar that we don’t have to help kids truly in need.
Simply put, this center is a waste of taxpayer money and is the poster child of government inefficiency. Over the past 20 years, the federal government has spent more than $568 million on the facility even though it duplicated the efforts of existing intelligence centers operated by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and others. It’s time to put an end to “business as usual.”
This legislation, H.R. 566, prohibits both the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense from spending any future taxpayer funds on the NDIC and transfers its responsibilities and activities to other existing agencies. Every year, the funding for this center was tucked away in the federal budget without any meaningful Congressional oversight and protected by powerful interests.
Today, difficult times require difficult choices. As Congress looks to reduce our nation’s crushing deficit, the first thing we must do is to make government more efficient. The NDIC has never lived up to its promise or potential. It’s time to shutter the place for good. There simply has been no accountability or clarity of mission.
In the months ahead, you are going to hear a lot about government waste and how excessive government regulations are hurting our economy. Just last week, the House passed a resolution directing committees to review federal regulations of government agencies, but there are other forces at work too – and they are just as damaging, but even more insidious.
Shortly after taking office, the White House issued an Executive Order “encouraging” federal agencies – I call it a “wink and nod” – to require Project Labor Agreements on government construction projects costing more than $25 million.
With unemployment in our part of California at 14 percent – and unemployment in the construction industry above 20 percent – these so-called “Crony Contracts” are just plain wrong. The bottom line: they are costing taxpayers a fortune by requiring the use of “union labor” only.
Instead of an Executive Order, what we really need from the White House is a “cease and desist” order.
Simply put, Project Labor Agreements are anti-competitive. The infamous Big Dig in Boston is clearly the “biggest” boondoggle of them all. Originally projected to cost about $3 billion, this three mile tunnel project turned out to be one of the most expensive federal highway projects in U.S. history.
At last count, the meter was still running—$15 billion in construction costs and another $7 billion in interest. Put another way, when it’s all said and done, the Big Dig—or, as some prefer to call it the Big Rippoff—will cost us about $1.2 million per foot. That’s right – more than a million dollars a foot.
Not only do these Project Labor Agreements waste taxpayer money, but they are inherently “un-American”. Think about it for a second. Less than 15 percent of construction workers in our nation are unionized.
So every time a PLA is mandated by some government bureaucrat, 85 percent of America’s construction workers – some 8 million hard working men and women across the country and about 50,000 of them in my district — are told: tough luck…too bad…maybe next time.
Since 2007, nearly 2 million construction workers across America have lost their jobs. Enough already. Let’s put an end to political favoritism. Let’s demand the best deal for taxpayers. Let’s say no to the “wink and nod” culture in Washington.
As the new Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, I am going to do everything possible to make “Made in America” matter again. And that starts by taking a critical look at what we do here at home to foster competitiveness.
Today, with our economy still struggling to recover, it’s time to do what’s best for all Americans, and not what’s best for a select, favored few.