An Alabama congressman introduced legislation Thursday requiring all fines, fees, penalties, and other unappropriated funds collected by federal agencies to be transferred to the Treasury, and subject to the appropriations process.
Citing recent examples where government agencies lacked accountability, 6th District Congressman Gary Palmer pitched the Agency Accountability Act (AAA) as a way to allow Congress to effectively regain the power of the purse over the actions of federal agencies and bring more transparency and accountability to the federal government.
“This legislation will bring transparency and oversight back to our government,” Palmer said in a news release. “Throughout the years, Congress has granted federal agencies the authority to collect fines, fees and other revenues outside of their appropriated funds, but Congress has had little or no say in the way a substantial portion of these monies are spent, which in some instances has led to agency abuse.”
A sizable portion of the fines, fees and other revenues are used by agencies to self-fund programs or operations outside of the normal appropriations process. Entities such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) receive no appropriated funds from Congress. According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in 2015 the federal government collected $516 billion in user fees alone. Last year U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) intended to fund President Barack Obama’s unconstitutional executive action on illegal immigration through fines and fees and circumvent the will of Congress.
Palmer continued, “Congress must begin reclaiming our Article I authority through the power of the purse and put the money back under congressional oversight where it belongs. I look forward to the support of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle as we work to restore Article I appropriation and oversight authority to Congress.”