The PJ Tatler

Christopher Columbus Program Targeted by Republicans

Chris Columbus may find himself under the spending ax if one Republican bill in the House is successful.

In August, freshman Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) introduced a bill to repeal the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Act, killing funding for the program and saving $4.5 million over ten years.

The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is an independent federal government agency established in 1992 to “encourage and support research, study and labor designed to produce new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind.” The president appoints the board of trustees.

The program was established through the sale of commemorative coins, but when those sales ended taxpayers started picking up the tab.

“Just as Christopher Columbus and his crew threw unnecessary goods off their ship to withstand dangerous waters, so too must America stop paying for extraneous expenses that contribute to the national debt,” said Gosar at the time. “I came to Congress to cut spending and reduce the size of government. The Christopher Columbus Foundation, while an admirable program, costs the taxpayer money and its mission is not within the constitutional scope of the federal government.”

His bill arose from the GOP’s YouCut program that lets Americans vote each week on which cost-cutting legislation they’d like to see.

Extinguishing funding for the Columbus fellowship was also included in Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) bill to eliminate funding for 85 programs, titled the Enacting President Obama’s Recommendations for Program Termination Act. Introduced in March 2011, that bill got stuck in the Appropriations Committee.

Gosar’s bill was sent to the Science, Space, and Technology and Education and the Workforce committees, where it won’t likely chart any new territory in the 112th Congress.