‘Billion Dollar Boondoggle’ bill from Ernst targets large-scale waste

WASHINGTON — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley criticized the Pentagon last year for spending $10,000 on a toilet seat. Now, Iowa’s other U.S. senator is sponsoring legislation she says targets scores of other incidents of excessively wasteful spending.

Senator Joni Ernst is blasting California’s “bullet train” project, which Ernst says is 13 years behind schedule and $44-billion over its original price tag.

“Hard-working Iowans should not be footing the bill for this out-of-control spending,” Ernst says. “That’s why I’ve introduced the Billion-Dollar Boondoggle Act which would require an annual report to taxpayers listing every government-funded project that is one-billion dollars or more over budget, or five years or more behind schedule.”

Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak, calls the bullet train project “infamous,” and says her legislation is vital to ending such cases where federal funds are being wasted on a massive scale.

“My bill will bring about needed accountability and transparency,” Ernst says. “It will allow us to identify train wrecks, like the disastrous California rail project, before they become bottomless pits of taxpayer dollars.”

Planners say the high-speed train project will eventually carry passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about two-and-a-half hours.

The original cost was estimated at $35-billion. The latest projections by the High-Speed Rail Authority show it in excess of $77-billion.