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Kuster introduces bi-partisan bill to close empty federal bank accounts

WASHINGTON -- Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster on Tuesday will join with a Republican lawmaker to introduce a bill that would require federal agencies to close empty bank accounts that she says are wasting millions of dollars in taxpayer funds.

Kuster and Rep. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota are dubbing the bill the Closing Long-Empty Accounts Now (CLEAN) Act.

While the sponsors do not claim the bill is an answer to the nation's fiscal challenges, Kuster said that no waste should be tolerated.

"Both parties can agree that there is no excuse for the government to squander millions of dollars maintaining empty federal bank accounts that serve no purpose," Kuster said. "No family or business would knowingly tolerate that type of waste, and neither should the federal government. That's just common sense."

According to Kuster's office, last year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the federal government was spending about $173,000 a month to maintain more than 28,000 empty bank accounts at an annual cost of over $2 million.

While some progress has been made since then, the Washington Post recently reported that 13,712 empty accounts remain open and will cost at least $890,000 in service fees this year alone if no action is taken to close them, the office said.

"Clearly, this bill is no substitute for a long-term plan to reduce the deficit, and I continue to urge both parties to work toward that type of responsible compromise," Kuster added. "But the fact is, the federal government shouldn't tolerate any waste – no matter how big or small. As Congress continues to debate ways to address our nation's fiscal challenges, let's prove to Granite Staters that we're capable of coming together to cut the most obvious examples of waste."

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