Government watchdog grades Congressional delegation

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 14, 2002

BNI Newswire

WASHINGTON – A governmental spending watchdog group in their annual report gave high marks to both U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus and U.S. Rep. Bob Riley.

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) last week released its annual congressional ratings, judging the records of each member of Congress in voting to reduce federal government waste, fraud and abuse.

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"A nation struggling with war, a weak economy, and renewed budget deficits can no longer afford leadership that throws money at every problem and hesitates to make any cuts," CCAGW President Tom Shatz said. "Our leaders must be held accountable for their action."

CCAGW rated 27 votes in the House and 20 votes in the Senate. Votes on the estate tax, marriage tax, capital gains tax, the $1.35 trillion Bush tax cut, and on whether to implement a Constitutional Amendment to require a two-thirds majority to raise taxes were included.

Bachus received a score of 83 for his 2001 votes, while Riley received a 74. The highest score awarded to any member of the Alabama congressional delegation was incumbent Sen. Jeff Sessions who received an 84.

Sessions also held the highest lifetime score from the group with an 83, followed by Bachus’ 75 and Riley’s 70.

"This news alone proves why Congressman Riley believes in term limits," said Riley spokesperson Pepper Bryars. "Term limits give you the freedom to vote your conscious rather than working about your next election."

Bachus’ spokesperson Jeff Emerson said the congressman continues to fight for smaller government and "doing away with wasteful Washington spending."

According to CCAGW spokesperson Sean Rushton, both Bachus and Riley should be applauded.

"These two men buck the trend when it comes to people who are elected to office," Rushton said. "It doesn’t take very long for elected officials to fall into the Washington mold of throwing money at a problem. They have done what they came here to do."

The member of the delegation to receive the lowest score was U.S. Rep. Earl Hilliard, who received a score of 15 and had a lifetime rating of 10. His opponent, Artur Davis, defeated Hilliard, who drew criticism about his voting habits in Washington during the recent party primaries.

"It is nice to see the voting public agree with what we are showing in our reports, by voting out those who push wasteful spending," Rushton said.

The report came just days before it was announced the federal government would post a $1.65 billion loss this year.

"There was a misconception that there was any real work done on the spending habits during the 1990s when we had budget surplus," Rushton said. "We had a very strong economy and spending levels were kept constant which led to the surplus."

The reported deficit, according to Rushton, cannot be completely blamed on the slow economy or the ongoing war on terrorism.

"During the last few months of last year – October, November and December – elected officials passed through a record amount of surplus spending," Rushton said. "This came even after the events of Sept. 11 and after our leaders knew the economy was slowing."

Other members of the states’ congressional delegation also received solid marks.

Sen. Richard Shelby received a 70 while U.S. Rep. Terry Everett received a 72. Rep. Sonny Callahan was given an 82 with Rep. Robert Aderholt scored a 68. Rep. Bud Cramer received the second lowest score of the delegation with a 60.