Utah's junior senator announced Monday he plans to introduce an extensive Congressional reorganization plan this week but acknowledged it doesn't have much of a chance of passing anytime soon.
Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, spent more than 20 minutes at a Salt Lake City press conference describing the new structure he'd like Congress to adopt, including the addition of task forces to deal with the most pressing issues.But asked if he has much chance of getting his reform package - titled the "Congressional Reorganization Act of 1993" - passed as a newly elected senator from the minority party, Bennett said it could take years.
"The answer is probably not. I won't say absolutely not," he said. So far, though, the reaction to the overall plan from his colleagues has been less than enthusiastic, Bennett said.
Earlier this year, he outlined the act to the joint committee on congressional reform. "The members of the joint committee said, `Oh,' " he said, calling the act more than they wanted to do.
As described to reporters on Monday, Bennett's act would:
- Reduce Congress' budget by 25 percent.
- Establish task forces to set national priorities for legislative action.
- Limit the number of Congressional committees.
- Replace the annual national budget with a two-year spending plan.
Bennett and other freshmen senators have already made several unsuccessful attempts this session to cut the cost of government. Bennett said they will continue to push for the reduction.
His act would reduce the cost of Congress by 10 percent the first year of the plan, another 10 percent the second year, and 5 percent the third year - a goal he said he intends to meet.
Bennett said he is allocated $1.4 million annually to run his Senate office. He said he has instructed his staff to cut that by $140,000 this year. Bennett has a staff of 20 in Washington, D.C., including interns.
He said his other goals are a little more complicated but are also intended to streamline the legislative process using the same principles Bennett had applied to his day-planner business.
The task forces, for example, would curb staff costs because each house of Congress would be limited to five task forces that must come up with proposed legislation within one year.
And he would cut the number of congressional standing committees and subcommittees by allowing only one for each of the 15 presidential Cabinet positions.
A new committee, the Committee on Leadership and National Priorities, would be responsible for the budget, rules and administration, and establishing legislative priorities.
Bennett said unlike other freshman legislators, he has the benefit of a dozen years of experience in Washington, D.C. "I don't have the same kind of frustration a lot of the freshmen do," he said.