New tracking tool shows Texas Republican congressmen among big spenders

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Despite promising fiscal responsibility, some of Texas’ Republican representatives in Congress are also among the most freewheeling with taxpayer dollars, according to a new tool that tracks congressional spending called What’s My Congressman’s Number.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, voted to spend $2.06 trillion over the next decade, tying him for sixth in the Senate. U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, voted for the same amount of spending, which ranked him 10th in the House.

Democratic Rep. Marc Veasey wasn’t far behind Thornberry, voting to spend just $200 billion less, and Republican Rep. Mike Conaway voted to spend $2.05 trillion, ranking him near the top of the list, as well.

The average member of the 114th Congress, including both Republicans and Democrats, voted to spend nearly $2 trillion in taxpayer money over the next 10 years, the congressional spending tracking tool found.

The nonpartisan Coalition to Reduce Spending, which created the website, gets its totals from Congressional Budget Office estimates. The tracker uses the up-or-down votes by members of the U.S. House and Senate on spending-related legislation, aggregating the spending contained in each bill for each member who votes yes. That provides a figure for each D.C. lawmaker.

Despite being the party that pushes reduced government and spending accountability, Republicans are as common at the top of the list as Democrats – the top five House spenders are all Republicans, and the top two Senate spenders are, too.

On his website, Cornyn writes that “Congress must also be careful stewards of your tax dollars, focusing on lowering annual deficits and recovering from our $18 trillion debt so future generations can enjoy the same opportunities available today. By eliminating excessive spending and increasing economic activity over time, we can reduce the current budget deficit.”

Thornberry, on his website, criticized former President Obama for having no intention to balance the federal budget. He wrote that “Congress must remember that every dollar it spends is either taken from a taxpayer who earned it or borrowed – with interest – for future generations to repay.”

“If we are to pass along to our kids and grand kids a nation with at least as much opportunity as was passed to us, we must get our fiscal house in order,” Thornberry wrote.

Thornberry’s press secretary, Jon Corley, didn’t return an email from The Texas Monitor seeking comment. No one answered the phone at Cornyn’s Washington, D.C., office on Wednesday.

On the spending tracker website, the coalition points out that nearly every member of Congress promises responsible spending, “but the last half-century of experience and nearly $20 trillion in debt shows these promises are forgotten more often than not, lost in a complicated system that favors the status quo.”

Jonathan Bydlak, the founder and president of the coalition, said his group created the tool because “very few people have time or interest to read through thousands of pages of economic reports and scroll through countless vote records, just to figure out how Congress is spending their money.”

Texas’ U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz was the fourth most frugal senator, voting for “just” $712 billion in sending. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another 2016 presidential candidate, topped the frugal list in the Senate. The Vermont independent voted for $215 billion in spending.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., was the most frugal of all, voting for $8.2 billion in spending over the next decade.

Johnny Kampis can be reached at jkampis@texasmonitor.org.

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