Utah Sen. Mike Lee is spearheading a renewed effort to pass the Agency Accountability Act, which would direct most fines, fees, and unappropriated proceeds to the Treasury instead of allowing federal agencies to keep the money and spend it as they desire without congressional supervision, the Washington Examiner reported on Tuesday.
A recent House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report said that agencies have collected $83 billion in fines and fees over the past five years and kept $31 billion, which Lee criticized as these agencies taking on the "characteristic of a sovereign despot."
Although there is no evidence this money is misused, Lee stressed to the Examiner that "the Constitution gives Congress, and only Congress, the power and responsibility to direct spending of federal dollars.
"The power of the purse is one of Congress' most potent tools for controlling federal bureaucrats, which is why so many agencies have sought to secure their own revenue streams, operating free from the scrutiny and accountability of congressional oversight."
Lee views this legislation, along with other bills he has proposed as a way "to develop and advance and hopefully enact an agenda of structural reforms that will strengthen Congress by reclaiming the legislative powers that have been ceded to the executive branch," The Daily Signal reported.
The conservative group Heritage Action announced its support for the legislation last week.
In announcing its backing, the group said the legislation "is a win for lawmakers who want to reclaim their rightful power of the purse and for those who care about fiscal sustainability and the negative economic effects of our growing national debt.
"With nearly two-thirds of the annual federal budget already consisting of 'auto-pilot' mandatory spending, Congress should use this opportunity to pass the Agency Accountability Act and take back the power of the purse."
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