House Republicans have issued a new demand of President Joe Biden after the government has spent billions on near-empty federal buildings by allowing workers to take advantage of liberal work-from-home policies enacted by his White House.
Republicans are demanding that Biden order most federal workers back to their offices after a Government Accountability Office report found that more than 75 percent of office space for 17 different agencies remained empty.
The demand comes on the heels of scores of “damning reports” that “reveal government employees have been in meetings while taking bubble baths, still got paid while on the golf course and attended happy hours while on the clock,” the UK’s Daily Mail reports.
The GOP majority wants Biden to either order employees back to work in person or sell off the buildings and use the funds to pay down the national debt, the outlet noted.
One Department of Veterans Affairs staffer posted several photos to Instagram earlier this year showing a view of a laptop computer and a bathroom from a tub.
“Federal employees have capitalized on Biden’s telework policies to work from bathtubs, shoot pool and sign off early for happy hour at the same time the backlog of passports continues and veterans have to wait months for appointments with their doctors,” the Daily Mail reported.
“A Department of Veterans Affairs employee based in Atlanta posted a series of Instagram stories from March from the bathtub with the caption: ‘My office for the next hour.’”
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) told the Daily Mail that Biden’s administration should hold a “clearance sale on unused office space” and use the proceeds to chip away at the $32 trillion national debt.
“Many civil servants, like meat inspectors or airport security screeners, do not have the luxury of working from home, much less a bubble bath,” she said.
The outlet added:
The Iowa senator wrote to a handful of agency inspector generals earlier this week to express concerns about their misuse of taxpayer funds.
She says that downsizing the amount of space at a number of several agencies would help cut down on waste. In particular, reducing office space at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) headquarters alone would save $30 million taxpayer dollars per year.
The senator also called out one USPTO patent examiner who ‘never showed up to work’ and was paid ‘$25,000 for 730 hours not worked’ while he was golfing and engaging in other activities.
That said, Biden’s Chief of Staff Jeff Zients has issued a directive to all federal workers ordering them to return to their offices later this fall after being able to work remotely for years during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are returning to in-person work because it is critical to the well-being of our teams and will enable us to deliver better results for the American people,” Zients wrote, adding that it is a priority of Biden’s.
This week, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer of Kentucky and Reps. Pete Sessions of Texas and Lauren Boebert of Colorado sent a letter to the Biden administration to clarify whether telework policies have reduced productivity.
Furthermore, they have asked for specific data regarding the number of federal employees who are still working remotely three years after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. They claim that the administration has been uncooperative in providing this information up to now.
“One of two options is currently playing out: either federal agencies are withholding information from Congress or federal agencies are not tracking telework and remote work policies as required by the law. Both possibilities are deeply concerning,” the three House Republicans wrote.
Comer said it’s “unacceptable” to continue allowing federal workers to work remotely.
“It’s unacceptable that the Biden Administration has continued pandemic-era telework policies when the pandemic has been over for some time,” he said.