By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, July 13, US Representative Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) announced that the House Freedom Caucus has recently met and has voted to endorse HR5499, the Agency Accountability Act (AAA), which was introduced by Congressman Palmer.
Rep. Palmer said in a statement, “This morning I joined other members of the House Freedom Caucus to debut and talk about some of our policy ideas. I am honored that my bill HR5499, the Agency Accountability Act, was included in this agenda.”
Congressman Palmer continued, “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. I fully believe that HR5499 will bring transparency and oversight back to our government and allow Congress to begin reclaiming our Article I authority through the power of the purse and put the money back under Congressional oversight where it belongs.”
Rep. Palmer introduced the Agency Accountability Act on June 16. HR5499 would require that 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, “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.”
The House Freedom Caucus is a 42 member group of conservative Republican Congress members who are generally more aligned with the Republican Tea Party movement. According to their mission statement: “The House Freedom Caucus gives a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.”
The Freedom Caucus was founded in January of 2015 and was instrumental in forcing former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) to resign. A super-majority of the group supported Congressman Paul Ryan’s rise to the Speakership. The Caucus is Chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) is also a member of the Freedom Caucus.
Congressman Gary Palmer represents Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District.