Oversight Committee Democrats Oppose Anti-Transparency Bills That Would Waste Taxpayer Dollars and Terminate Vital Programs
Washington, D.C. (July 13, 2023)—Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, led Committee Democrats in opposing several Republican bills that would defund and terminate critical programs, undermine transparency and accountability in federal contracting, and withhold information about climate-related financial risk from the public.
“Today’s markup agenda contains nine substantive bills. The Republican Majority employed a transparent and inclusive process, with Democratic input and collaboration, but, alas, only on a few of the nine. After close analysis of each bill, I plan to support four of the nine bills on the agenda because I believe these four genuinely advance the transparency, efficiency, and accountability that the American people deserve from their government. However, the remaining five are clear attempts to undermine the effectiveness of government, the will of Congress, and the will of the American people. I invite the public to closely examine these bills for themselves, so they don’t start following this bunch of wolves in sheep’s clothing deep into the forest,” said Ranking Member Raskin in his opening statement.
H.R. 4435, The Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act
This bill by Congressional Republicans would methodically defund and then terminate all federal programs with expired authorizations that are not expressly reauthorized by Congress at least every three years, including programs that provide hospital care and medical services for veterans, childcare for working parents, safe drinking water, Section 8 tenant-based housing assistance, the Federal Pell Grants, and Head Start early education. Congress routinely appropriates funding toward—and conducts oversight of—legally authorized programs whose authorizations of appropriations have technically lapsed. According to the Congressional Budget Office, in fiscal year 2023, Congress appropriated $510 billion toward 428 such programs and activities.
Standing with Americans impacted by these federal programs—including veterans, students, and children—Committee Democrats opposed the bill as written and introduced a series of amendments to protect Americans, which Republicans voted against. For example:
- Ranking Member Raskin offered an amendment to ensure that programs are not automatically defunded or terminated if enactment of the bill would harm the people the programs serve.
- Rep. Jasmine Crockett offered an amendment to prevent dangerous cuts to FEMA, particularly as extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and catastrophic.
- Rep. Robert Garcia offered an amendment to protect the public from the largest program cuts and terminations.
- Rep. Stephen F. Lynch offered an amendment that would protect veterans’ medical care from funding cuts and termination.
Additionally, Committee Democrats opposed H.R. 1209, legislation that would overturn the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on federal construction projects above $35 million. Democrats offered numerous examples and research demonstrating that PLAs are a valuable tool to help ensure that large construction projects are completed effectively, efficiently and safely.
Another Republican bill, H.R. 3358, would prevent the government from requiring a federal contractor to disclose greenhouse gas emissions and climate-related financial risks, to provide a greenhouse gas inventory or any other report on greenhouse gas emissions, or to develop and validate emissions reduction targets. Democrats strongly opposed H.R. 3358, noting that keeping emissions and other important data related to climate-related financial risk secret will undermine efforts to confront the threats posed by climate change.
Committee Democrats also opposed several other GOP measures, including H.R. 3230, the Unfunded Mandates Accountability and Transparency Act, and H.R. 192, yet another bill seeking to interfere in the local elections of the District of Columbia.