By Matt Sifert, Federalism Fellow | Federalism In Action

Federal$$On March 14, 2016, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers introduced H.R. 4730, known as the Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act. The purpose of this measure is to sunset unauthorized programs and ensure that programs cannot continue without an authorized spending schedule.

The act proposes to schedule a sunset for any unauthorized programs beginning in fiscal year 2016. These programs will be specifically targeted by using the Congressional Budget Office’s “Unauthorized Appropriations and Expiring Authorizations” report.

This legislation would place an additional check on congressional spending and, thus, the national purse by requiring a regular authorization of federally funded programs. Ideally, this measure will provide for greater transparency and oversight by further democratizing the expenditure process and hold our members of Congress accountable for approved spending. According to the Congressional Budget Office, last year more than $300 billion were appropriated to programs that are no longer authorized.

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers

The act would create a commission that would review federal spending, both discretionary and mandatory spending. This commission will allow more flexibility and accountability for Congress to be more effective in their spending. At a press conference announcing the USA Act, Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers stated that “too much of the government is on autopilot and its time we challenge that status quo.” Her goal with this bill is to “review, rethink and perhaps eliminate government programs.”

It is clear that the federal government has a spending problem. A larger problem is that we have programs that our representatives have not approved. Any additional check on this sort of spending would be a benefit to both the states and American public. If we are to have responsible and effective representatives, they must be financially accountable.

The implications of allowing such financial instability have serious effects on America’s approach to politics. Our founders believed that the government derived their power from the consent of the people. If we compromise our position on that, the government will quickly absorb the vacuum of responsibility. We must hold our federal government accountable if we are to protect and secure our rights.

This legislation would address both backlogged programs as well as current programs. The three-year authorization schedule would force legislators to address and re-address legislation that was ineffective or inefficient. H.R. 4730 is an example of a tangible policy that can reign in government spending at the federal level and, hopefully, limit intrusions on fiscal federalism.

About the author: Matt Sifert is a Senior at The King’s College in New York City. He is majoring in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, as well as pursuing a minor in Theology. While at King’s, Matt has interned for Congressman David Schweikert as well as at the American Legislative Exchange Council. After graduation, Matt would like to pursue work in criminal justice or tax policy. In his free time, Matt enjoys all things football and baseball, as well as high-quality music.

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