Why the US Is Spending $374, 087 to Study Seniors’ Dating Habits

PHOTO: Sen. James Lankford holds a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 30, 2015, to announce the release of his federal government waste and solutions report titled "Federal Fumbles: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball."PlayJ. Scott Applewhite/AP Photos
WATCH New Report: Tax Dollars Put to Use in Outrageous Ways

It’s the most wonderful time of the year -- especially for Congressional spending hawks.

Sen. James Lankford introduced his “Federal Fumbles” list, a compilation of 100 government projects that Lankford says are “prime examples of wasteful spending.”

It also happens to call out one presidential hopeful: real estate magnate Donald Trump, whose new hotel project in Washington, D.C., housed in the Old Post Office Building, is the recipient of a tax credit for historic structures to the tune of $40 million.

“While the lucky guests of this palatial hotel will be awestruck by its glitz and glamour, taxpayers are unlikely to be amused that they helped foot the bill through a $40 million tax credit thanks to the National Historic Tax Credit,” Lankford wrote.

Here’s a look at a few other spending items that made the list:

Thousands Researching Seniors’ Romancing

The dating waters can be rough -- but just how do older adults navigate them? That’s a question the University of Texas at Austin is seeking to answer, and has received almost $375,000 in National Science Foundation funds over three years to find out. The study’s researchers maintain their purpose is practical, and serious: as Americans begin to live longer, research about how that affects their interpersonal relationships becomes harder to find.

“Longer life expectancies and high divorce rates have contributed to a new social reality in which older adults (i.e., age 60+) increasingly find themselves unpartnered and searching for companionship. ... Results from this study will be informative for improving happiness and health throughout the lifespan.”

Shakespeare, Only Without the Words

Lankford’s list singles out a Northern Virginia theater that has received almost $200,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts over the past four years: the Synetic Theater in Arlington, which frequently stages wordless adaptations of William Shakespeare plays.

“William Shakespeare was lauded for many things: his meter, his verse, his complicated characters. Generations of families have come together to enjoy productions of Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays. ... But was Polonius right in Hamlet when he said, ‘Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice’? Lankford asks in his “Fumbles” list. But the Synetic Theater says it’s only spent $35,000 in federal funds on silent Shakespeare performances in its 15-year history. And the theater also defended the art form. “Our angle is different but still valuable as we use traditional physical techniques that are at the root of all theatre,” the theater’s marketing manager Alysa Turner said in an email to ABC News.

Latest Pentagon Target: A Bird?

The Department of Defense issued a $283,500 grant to the study of a tiny breed of bird, the California Gnatcatcher, “to determine use throughout each vegetation alliance,” according to a description of the project on Grants.gov -- although the total money the program would actually use was far less than the dollars allocated. The first question Lankford asks about this study is why the Department of Defense is spending money to research this bird, while there is a perfectly valid federal agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, that could be better suited to it, assuming the California gnatcatcher is not a national security threat?

“DOD should be in the business of defense, not nature conservancy,” the report says. A representative for the gnatcatcher research program could not immediately be reached by ABC News.