In a story for the Weekly Standard, Kevin Kosar, the director of the governance project at the R Street Institute, a libertarian think tank, said that the amount of unauthorized appropriations has doubled over the last decade, while the number of programs operating under expired authorizations has increased by more than 45 percent.

“So, why does Congress not bother to reauthorize agencies and programs? Because it is time-consuming and often opens up difficult political feuds,” Kosar told us via email. “So why doesn’t Congress allow some agencies and programs to just shut down? Because shutting them down can make some voters mad, and could create policy disasters. There’s a small $22.5 million grant program for bulletproof vests for police whose authorization has expired. What politician is comfortable shutting that program down? And the Department of State has not been reauthorized since 2004. Instead of appropriating funds without authorization, should Congress simply shut down America’s embassies and diplomatic offices?”

Nonetheless, Kosar argues that there are good reasons to authorize and appropriate funds separately. The two-step process “makes spending harder” and gives Congress “regular opportunities to rethink and revise policies,” Kosar wrote in the Weekly Standard.

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