The federal government is currently spending more than $332 billion on expired programs that have not been reauthorized by Congress, reports Fox News.
This includes annually renewed funds for programs such as the Appalachian Regional Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Legal Services Corporation, and the United States Institute of Peace.
1,046 federal programs have expired but continue to receive annual funds without Congress reauthorizing them, costing $332 billion.
The FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives all have not been reauthorized by Congress since 2009, reports Politico.
The State Department also has not been reauthorized since 2003. Congress has not reauthorized the National Weather Service since 1993, the Federal Trade Commission has not been reauthorized since 1998, and the Federal Election Commission was last authorized in 1981.
“If Congress is not exercising its oversight authority, we will have more waste fraud and abuse,” said Jonathan Bydlak, director of governance at the R Street Institute, to Fox News. “Maybe the expired programs are not wasteful, but how would we know if Congress isn’t doing its job? An entire program may not be wasteful, but a function within that department might be. We don’t know because Congress doesn’t have a process in place to evaluate its relevance.”
Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers introduced the Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act that would cut down on this “autopilot” spending.
“We have a fiscal crisis in America today. Too much of the federal government is on autopilot, and it’s up to Congress to address it,” said Rodgers in a statement. “The USA Act is simple — it makes sure that every penny of taxpayer money is subject to the scrutiny of the American people who are footing the bill. It means effectively reviewing, rethinking, and possibly eliminating programs that are no longer needed. It’s time for Congress to restore the power of the purse and end unauthorized spending.”
The bill would gradually defund programs that have not been reauthorized over a span of three years, forcing Congress to act.