In Letter, Reid Responds To Attacks On Las Vegas, Asks Committee To Focus On Irresponsible Actions Of GSA

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Washington, D.C.- Nevada Senator Harry Reid submitted a letter today to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee regarding their oversight hearing on wasteful government spending at the General Services Administration (GSA). In his letter, Senator Reid expressed strong displeasure with the GSA’s excessive spending and urged the Committee leaders to remain focused on the irresponsible actions of the GSA, not the location of the conferences in question.

“While some members of Congress may choose to focus their outrage on Las Vegas, the GSA’s misuse of tax dollars could have occurred in any city in the nation,” Reid wrote in his letter. “Fundamentally, today’s hearing is not about Las Vegas or where people choose to hold conferences and meetings. The heart of the issue is the need to spend taxpayer dollars wisely, and to ensure that proper internal controls are in place at every federal agency to prevent wasteful spending.”

The Honorable Barbara Boxer                        The Honorable James Inhofe
Chairman                                                          Ranking Member
Environment and Public Works Committee    Environment and Public Works Committee
410 Dirksen Senate Office Building               410 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510                                  Washington, DC 20510
 
Dear Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Inhofe:
 
Thank you for holding an oversight hearing on wasteful government spending at the General Services Administration (GSA). After an investigation by the agency’s Inspector General showed extravagant spending and misuse of federal resources, it is important for Congress to ensure that this situation does not happen in the future. We should also applaud the Administration for taking swift action to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
 
In my view, the misuse of federal taxpayer dollars by the GSA demonstrated a complete lack of common sense and a careless disregard for American taxpayers. The lavish and excessive spending at the GSA is indefensible and does not represent the way federal agencies conduct their affairs. Although I support Congressional oversight into these abuses, we must ensure that these hearings do not have a chilling impact on the convention industry. I encourage you to remember the importance of business meetings – not only to Nevada but also to your state.
 
Meetings and face-to-face interactions facilitate business transactions. According to a comprehensive year-long study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, nearly 1.8 million meetings, conferences, conventions, and other events were held throughout the country in 2009. These meetings had a direct impact in our communities, supporting more than 1.7 million jobs and $263 billion in spending. Additionally, meetings generated $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue.
 
It’s easy to see why a business or a government agency would choose Las Vegas for a conference destination: Simply put, Las Vegas provides tremendous value. An average hotel room costs more than $124 per night in the Top 25 convention destinations – including New York, San Francisco, Miami, and Chicago. Las Vegas offers the second cheapest nightly rate in the United States at $105 last year. Additionally, Las Vegas has more than 10.6 million square feet of meeting and convention space – more than any other destination – and it has three of the largest convention centers in North America. Last year, Las Vegas hosted more than 19,000 meetings and conventions. Those meetings pumped $6.3 billion back into the local economy, supporting more than 58,000 jobs for Nevada’s working families.
 
While some members of Congress may choose to focus their outrage on Las Vegas, the GSA’s misuse of tax dollars could have occurred in any city in the nation. Fundamentally, today’s hearing is not about Las Vegas or where people choose to hold conferences and meetings. The heart of the issue is the need to spend taxpayer dollars wisely, and to ensure that proper internal controls are in place at every federal agency to prevent wasteful spending. I look forward to the hearing today and appreciate your consideration of my views.
 
                                                           Sincerely,
 
 
 
                                                           HARRY REID
                                                           United States Senator
                                                           Nevada
 
 

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