Leahy Unveils Legislation To Defend Power Of The Purse

WASHINGTON (WEDNESDAY, June 3, 2020) – Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Wednesday unveiled the Congressional Power Of The Purse Act to restore Congress’ constitutional authority and rein in encroachment on federal spending decisions by the Executive Branch.

Leahy said:  “When Congress appropriates federal dollars we expect those dollars to be used as directed.  We expect appropriations laws to be upheld.  And we expect the Administration to be transparent in its actions.  But for too many years, Presidents of both parties have encroached on the power of the purse as they have tried to expand their budgetary powers, and in some cases substitute their judgement for that of Congress.  This has been acutely true under this Administration.”

Leahy said that for too many years, Congress has ceded its constitutional authority over the power of the purse too much to the Executive Branch, but no President has pushed the boundaries of and contorted appropriations law more than President Trump.  He said the President and his administration consistently disregard the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution by diverting funds meant for military families to build his wall, illegally withholding aid to Ukraine appropriated by Congress to serve the President’s own political purposes, and denying Congress’ oversight authorities. 

The Congressional Power Of The Purse Act would restore Congress’ central role in funding decisions, increase transparency in the Executive Branch, and add teeth to existing budget law.

In April, Leahy leant his support to a companion bill in the House of Representatives lead by House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth, and House Appropriations Chairwoman, Nita Lowey.   

The Senate bill is cosponsored by Senators Murray, Van Hollen, Feinstein, Coons, Baldwin, Wyden, Merkley, Whitehouse, Schatz, Sanders, Shaheen, Tester, Udall, Cardin, Reed, Durbin, Murphy and Manchin.

Bill text is available here: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/download/hen20533

Leahy’s full statement is available here: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/download/power-of-the-purse-statement

Section by Section is available here: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/download/power-of-the-purse-section-by-section_senate-bill

One-pager is available here: https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/download/power-of-the-purse-one-pager_senate-bill

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