Bipartisan Bill Aims to Cut Official Portrait Spending

Perhaps the cupboard
totally bare… yet. Painted portraits for government
officials may be a
small fraction
of federal spending, but a bipartisan bill aims
to cut back how much the feds can spend on these self-indulgent

The Responsible Use of Taxpayer Dollars for Portraits Act “would
put a cap on the amount of taxpayer support for the portraits and
limit the practice to those officials in the line of succession for
the presidency,”
a press release.

The sponsors of the bill, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen  (D-N.H.),
and Tom Coburn, (R-Okla.) expressed their views on the matter. Fox


“At a time when vital services and programs are facing cuts, we
need to be looking at every way we can stop excessive spending
practices in Washington,” Shaheen said.

Coburn says their bill is a way to rein in excess spending in
Washington, and ensure taxpayers are not paying for unnecessary

“Hardworking taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for lavish
official portraits, especially when government officials spend more
on paintings of themselves than some Americans make in a year,”
Coburn said.

If this bill passes, spending on the paintings would be capped
at $20,000 per portrait. 

How much do these lavish works of art normally cost?

Up to “$50,000 apiece and… most of the contracts [are] awarded
with no competitive bidding process,”
to the Washington Post. Another report by
the Post found that “the federal government spent $180,000
last year on portraits, including paintings of non-Cabinet
officials, such as former Environmental Protection Agency
administrator Lisa Jackson and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley,
that cost at least $40,000 apiece.”

An ABC News article from earlier this year
that in a two-years span, the Obama administration
spent nearly $400,000 on portraits.

As an added bonus, the bill would only allow those in line for
the presidency will have the opportunity to commit their faces to
canvas with taxpayer dollars.

This means we will still be subject to monarchical tributes to
patron President Obama, Rubens’ rendition of VP Joe Biden, a Munch
masterpiece with the likeness of Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), Sen.
Leahy (D-Vt.) in the impressionistic pastels of Degas, and a
smattering of cubist fragments showing all the terribly
incomprehensible sides of the cabinet. Maybe they could take a page
out of former-President Bush’s book and paint some selfies

from Hit & Run

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