Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McConnell, and Minority Leader McCarthy:

The undersigned organizations represent the Power of the Purse Coalition, an ideologically diverse collection of civil society groups focused on helping Congress reclaim and effectively reassert its traditional purview over tax and spending matters (i.e., its power of the purse). We formed in July 2020 to advocate for meaningful action on power of the purse issues.

We write to you today, at the outset of the second session of the 117th Congress, for two reasons. First, we commend and applaud important steps Congress has taken toward strengthening its power of the purse over the past two years. Second, we encourage Congress to build on this progress by continuing the vital work of reclaiming its constitutional authorities around taxation and spending through the promotion of more accountability, transparency, and oversight capacity regarding the use of tax dollars.

First, we were encouraged by passage of the Taxpayers Right to Know Act [1] and the Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act. [2] Each of these critical pieces of legislation, which have now been signed into law, helps restore Congress’s power of the purse by requiring more transparency regarding how the executive branch and its agency components use federal tax dollars and more reporting regarding the future use of such funds. By making this kind of information more accessible and publicly available, Congress took meaningful steps toward lifting the veil of secrecy around federal spending. In turn, this enhanced transparency will help Congress monitor and crack down on wasteful spending, and conduct the kind of oversight that will improve effectiveness and integrity in federal spending overall. We urge you to engage with the administration to ensure that these laws are implemented in a timely manner, as some of the initial deadlines for action have already passed. [3]

Second, we urge you to finish work on pending legislation that would bolster the power of the purse and send these measures to the president’s desk. This unfinished business includes comprehensive reforms to the Inspector General system, enhanced protections for federal government whistleblowers, overdue reforms of the National Emergencies Act, and a series of power of the purse initiatives included in FY22 appropriations bills advanced by both the House and the Senate. Collectively, these reforms would result in a vastly more accountable and transparent federal spending framework. These proposals would provide Congress and other watchdogs with the resources, capabilities, and protections they need to prevent and report waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption when it happens. Just as importantly, these reforms would also substantially rebalance the growing power asymmetry between Congress and the executive branch.

Lastly, we would like to encourage Congress to use the remainder of the 117th Congress to advance additional power of the purse reforms, including:

Thank you for all that you have already done to strengthen the congressional power of the purse and make federal spending more accountable and transparent for the American people. There is still much work to do on these issues, and we stand ready, willing, and able to assist in these efforts.


Demand Progress
Taxpayers for Common Sense
National Taxpayers Union
Project on Government Oversight
Protect Democracy
R Street Institute
Taxpayers for Common Sense

[1] See Sec. 9601: Congress.gov. “Public Law 116-283—January 1, 2021: William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.” Retrieved from: https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ283/PLAW-116publ283.pdf#page=1437 (Accessed January 20, 2022.)

[2] See: Congress.gov. Introduced February 8, 2021. “S.272 – Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act of 2021.” Retrieved from: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/272/text (Accessed January 20, 2022.)

[3] For more, see: Protect Democracy. “Letter to OMB on Taxpayers Right-to-Know Implementation.” November 29, 2021. Retrieved from: https://protectdemocracy.org/update/letter-to-omb-on-taxpayers-right-to-know-implementation/ (Accessed January 20, 2022.)

[4] Congress.gov. “H.R.6628 – Congressional Power of the Purse Act.” Introduced April 28, 2020. Retrieved from: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6628/text (Accessed January 20, 2022.)

[5] See Title V – Reasserting Congressional Power of the Purse: Congress.gov. “H.R.5314 – Protecting Our Democracy Act.” Introduced September 21, 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/5314/text (Accessed January 20, 2022.)

[6] Congress.gov. “H.R.2052 – DISASTER Act of 2021.” Introduced March 18, 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/2052/text (Accessed January 20, 2022.)

[7] Congress.gov. “S.3289 – DISASTER Act.” Introduced December 1, 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/3289/text (Accessed January 20, 2022.)

[8] Congress.gov. “H.R.2485 – Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act.” Introduced April 13, 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/2485/text (Accessed January 20, 2022.)

[9] ibid.

[10] Congress.gov. “S.2838 – Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act.” Introduced September 23, 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/2838/text (Accessed January 20, 2022.)

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