Congress spent $310 billion last year on more than 250 programs that were no longer authorized. This week, the House Republican Conference took important steps to kill these so-called “zombies” in the federal budget, which waste taxpayer dollars and erode Congress’ Article One powers.

The Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act, introduced Monday by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, aims to restore the power of the purse to the American people by gradually eliminating unauthorized spending. Under the USA Act, unauthorized programs would be subject to reductions of 10 percent in the first year and 15 percent for the following two years, after which they would be phased out altogether unless Congress reauthorizes them. R Street has joined our friends at National Taxpayers Union, as well as 11 other groups, in urging Congress to support this much-needed legislation.

Where do the “zombies” come from? As R Street Governance Project Director Kevin Kosar explains, Congress is supposed to carry out a process of authorization before federal funds are appropriated. But increasingly, Congress has been dodging this two-step process and disbursing taxpayer dollars into programs and agencies that have not been authorized to receive and spend funds. By doing so, Congress allows wasteful programs to live well past their expiration date and weakens its own power for oversight.

It’s time for members of Congress to do their job and hold wasteful federal programs and agencies accountable. By killing the zombie government programs that receive unauthorized funds, the USA Act promises a step in the right direction.

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