By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, June 16, US Representative Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) introduced the Agency Accountability Act (AAA), 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.
Congressman Palmer said, “This legislation will bring transparency and oversight back to our government. 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. 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.”
According to information from Palmer 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. Palmer said that for example, entities such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) receive no appropriated funds from Congress.
Palmer shared that, “According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in 2015 the federal government collected $516 billion in user fees alone.”
Rep. Palmer cited as an example the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) intent last year to fund President Obama’s executive action on illegal immigration through fines and fees. Palmer said that that plan was unconstitutional and claimed that it was to circumvent the will of Congress.
Palmer claimed that the Agency Accountability Act would 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.
The Heritage Foundation’s James L Gattus and Diane Katz warned recently, “The number and cost of government regulations continued to climb in 2015, intensifying Washington’s control over the economy and Americans’ lives.”
US Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) said, “Today, the vast majority of federal “laws”—upwards of 95 percent—are not passed by the House and Senate and signed by the president as the Constitution directs; they are imposed unilaterally by unelected Executive Branch bureaucrats.”
Congressman Gary Palmer represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.