Senators Say No To Pricey Government Portraits

The war against oil paintings begins.

A detail of artist Nelson Shanks’ painting, “The Four Justices”, an oil portrait of the first four female justices of the U.S. Supreme Court is seen during a press preview at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, Monday, Oct. 28, 2013.
Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., want to limit expense on paintings of government officials, such as "The Four Justices," a painting unveiled recently of the first four female Supreme Court justices.

Here's something lawmakers across the aisle can agree on: no more expensive oil paintings of themselves.

On Thursday, Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., jointly introduced legislation that would cap the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on oil paintings of government officials to $20,000. Additionally, the Responsible Use of Taxpayer Dollars for Portraits Act would limit such taxpayer-funded art projects to those in line of presidential succession.

[READ: Female Supremes Get Their Day in Art]

"Hardworking taxpayers shouldn't foot the bill for lavish official portraits, especially when government officials spend more on paintings of themselves than some Americans make in a year," Coburn said in a statement.

"At a time when vital services and programs are facing cuts, we need to be looking at every way we can stop excessive spending practices in Washington," Shaheen said.

The senators cited a report in the Washington Times dated November 2012, and an ABC News report from March 2013, which said that the Obama administration spent almost $400,000 on commissioned portraits of agency directors during the past two years.

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