Bipartisan Coalition Urges Appropriators to Restore Congress’ Power of the Purse
Dear Chairman Leahy, Vice Chairman Shelby, Senator Van Hollen, and Senator Hyde-Smith:
We are an ideologically diverse coalition of organizations that have come together to preserve and promote the constitutional role of Congress, including Congress’s power of the purse. We write today to ask the Senate Appropriations Committee to include language in Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations legislation strengthening and reaffirming Congress’s fundamental constitutional authority over federal spending.
Specifically, we ask you to include several provisions that aim to rebalance the growing asymmetry between Executive and Congressional control over federal spending. These provisions were included in the House-passed Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations bill in Fiscal Year 2021, including:
(1) Requiring the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to disclose apportionment decisions publicly, which currently are legally binding and made by OMB in secret.
(2) Reining in reprogramming budget authority by requiring automatic disclosures when the Executive Branch seeks to reprogram congressionally appropriated funds.
(3) Placing strictures on the manipulation of the timing of funds’ obligation by requiring that funds are obligated within a reasonable time in order to avoid circumventing congressional intent.
(4) Requiring executive agencies to, as a matter of statute, be more responsive to and cooperative with the Government Accountability Office investigations of potential violations of appropriations law.
(5) Requiring executive agencies to notify Congress when OMB has issued apportionment decisions that would delay or disrupt funding directives enacted by Congress.
Additionally, we encourage you to include the following language in the FSGG report:
Online Budget Repository: Instructs agencies to post their budgets and associated congressional budget justifications on a publicly accessible website. Requires additional reporting and public disclosure of critical budget data.
Including these provisions in the Senate’s FSGG Appropriations bill and report would help to meaningfully restore Congress’s power over the purse through stronger transparency and reporting from the Executive Branch. These reporting and disclosure requirements are directly related to the use of the funds appropriated by this and other Appropriations legislation. These measures will ensure Congress has the information it needs — how, where, and to what extent congressionally appropriated funds are spent by the Executive Branch — to effectively discharge its constitutional responsibility as the steward of taxpayer funds.
Thank you for your consideration, and we are happy to provide assistance and answer any questions that you have.
National Taxpayers Union
Project on Government Oversight
R Street Institute
Taxpayers for Common Sense