Senate appropriations chief pledges GSA conference investigation

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. Nam Y. Huh/AP file photo

Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin pledged Sunday to hold a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee to investigate excessive expenditures by the General Services Administration.

"I'm glad that the GSA administrator left. It's one of the agencies I have responsibility for under the Appropriations Committee. We are going to have a hearing as to what actually happened here," Durbin said on NBC's Meet the Press.

Former GSA administrator Martha Johnson fired two deputies and then stepped down herself after revelations that the GSA spent more than $822,000 in taxpayer money on a lavish Las Vegas conference that included a clown, a mind reader, expensive souvenirs and fancy food. The incident has fueled Republican attacks on the Obama administration as engaging in out-of-control spending. Durbin called the conference "an absolutely outrageous expenditure of taxpayer money" and said the administration had handled the aftermath appropriately.

"The White House made it clear that the group in charge was going to be dismissed and resign, and they did," Durbin said. "Whether it's Democrats, Republicans, whether it's the state of Illinois, Ohio, or Washington, that kind of misuse of taxpayer funds is totally unacceptable."

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