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Chairs Yarmuth, Lowey, Maloney Demand Documentation After White House Fails to Assure Compliance with the Law

Aug 11, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Budget Chairman John Yarmuth, House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, and House Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney sent a letter to Russell Vought, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), requesting documentation on the apportionment of appropriations in the remaining weeks of this fiscal year after the Director failed to assure the House leaders that OMB would not abuse the apportionment process.

The letter comes after Director Vought’s deficient response to a June letter from Chairman Yarmuth and amid ongoing concerns that the Administration could again illegally impound funds by abusing the apportionment process. The Chairs wrote, “You responded that the Administration has no present plan to pursue an end-of-year rescissions proposal, but you gave no assurance that OMB would release expiring appropriations to agencies for use even as the fiscal year comes to a close—as you are required to do by law.”

The Chairs underscored the limitations of the President’s spending authority, noting: “The Constitution invests Congress with the power of the purse. Your response reflects a serious misunderstanding of the President’s role in apportioning funds. That role comes from Congress, who assigned it to the President under the Antideficiency Act to prevent deficiencies. Congress assigned this responsibility to the President to protect Congress’s power of the purse against coercive deficiencies, not to cede it to the Executive Branch.”

As the primary committees charged with overseeing annual funding decisions, the Impoundment Control Act, and oversight of the Executive Branch, Chairs Yarmuth, Lowey, and Maloney warned that the Trump Administration’s history of obstruction and lawbreaking “raises concerns about whether OMB’s implementation of the apportionment authority will be in compliance with the law and whether legislative reforms are needed.”

In April, Chairman Yarmuth introduced the Congressional Power of the Purse Act, of which Chairwomen Lowey and Maloney are original cosponsors, to both increase executive transparency and protect Congress’s constitutional power of the purse. To that end, the documentation requested in today’s letter will support the Committees’ ongoing legislative efforts.

The full letter can be found here.