The U.S. State Department reportedly spent roughly $180,000 on alcohol in the days leading up to the 16-day partial government shutdown.
And that figure is just for September, the final month of the federal government’s fiscal year. The U.S. government spent approximately $400,000 on alcohol in FY2013, the report adds. This is roughly three times what was spent on alcohol in 2008, the Washington Times reported.
The government shut down, which lasted from Oct. 1 to Oct. 16, was caused by Republican efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
The State Department’s September booze orders were placed for U.S. embassies around the world and, as the Times notes, it looks like they were “last-minute pre-shutdown splurges.”
An estimated $5,625 was spent on “gratuity wine” for the embassy in Rio de Janeiro on Sept. 29. This order was followed by a $5,925 order for “gratuity whiskey” on Oct. 1, the day the supposedly disastrous shutdown began.
Government officials spent an additional $22,416 on wine for the embassy in Tokyo as well as $15,900 on whiskey for the embassy in Moscow.
It’s not unusual for U.S. embassies to keep a supply of alcohol on hand. Indeed, many administrations, both Republican and Democratic, have allowed the State Department to include alcohol in its annual budget for U.S. embassies, mostly for entertainment purposes.
But as the Washington Times notes, spending on alcohol has risen precipitously in the past five years.
The State Department purchased approximately $415,000 worth of alcohol in 2012, a 25 percent increase from 2011 and more than triple the amount that was spent in 2008, the Times reported, citing federal government’s procurement database.
Considering the apocalyptic rhetoric that was used throughout the government shutdown, and taking the national debt into consideration, perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea if government officials looked for ways to cut their spending, even if it is a few hundred thousand dollars.
“This is what taxpayers don’t understand,” Dave Williams, president of the nonprofit Taxpayers Protection Alliance, told the Washington Times. “You have a looming government shutdown but then you have a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ mentality where someone is spending tens of thousands of dollars because they have to.
“If you’re a family or a business and you’re getting ready for a potential loss of revenue, the first thing you do is get rid of the parties,” he said. “It’s symbolic.”
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