ALEC Alumni Address Taxpayers’ $310 Billion Unauthorized Appropriations Problem
Recently, ALEC alumnus and House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (GA) joined ALEC members on a conference call to discuss free market solutions to federal budget challenges. Congressman Price discussed unauthorized appropriations, which represent a huge problem for taxpayers.
According to the congressman’s weekly Budget Digest, an unauthorized appropriation is an activity or program that has been funded with discretionary appropriations, even though their specific authorization of appropriation has expired. A recent Congressional Budget Office report estimates that unauthorized appropriations total $310 billion for FY 2016. Approximately $160 billion is for activities or programs that have not been specifically authorized for over a decade. As Jake Tapper remarked in a recent CNN video, unauthorized appropriations are “zombie government programs that prevent ‘we the people’ from exercising our power of the purse.”
To address this troubling issue, ALEC alumna Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA) has introduced the Unauthorized Spending Act. This policy provides a rolling sequester for all unauthorized programs and creates a path for them to sunset in three years. Furthermore, any reauthorized program must contain a sunset clause. The Unauthorized Spending Act also establishes the Spending Accountability Commission (SAC), which will thoroughly review all mandatory spending programs, set a full authorization schedule of all discretionary programs, and identify spending cuts.
Unauthorized appropriations are a significant waste of taxpayer dollars. Thankfully, Budget Committee Chairman Price and Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers will continue to advance policy solutions that respect hardworking taxpayers. For more solutions to state budget problems, please consult the ALEC Center for State Fiscal Reform study, State Budget Reform Toolkit.
Bob Williams is a Senior Fellow at State Budget Solutions, a project of the ALEC Center for State Fiscal Reform.