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Government Zombies

Congress is considering a bill to fight government zombies. That is the name Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers gives to the many government programs that have never been reauthorized by Congress. These “walking dead” programs continue to function with little or no government oversight.

Her bill would gradually cut funding for unauthorized government programs in order to compel Congress to take action on them. Currently, the federal government funds 256 unauthorized programs costing $310.4 billion. This even includes entire agencies like the State Department.

That raises a point. Would Congress refuse to refund the State Department? Certainly not, but imagine the oversight that would occur if even the State Department had to come to Congress and explain its action. Representative Rogers notes that many of these agencies have “become arrogant, they become disconnected from their mission.” She believes that this bill “restores accountability with the elected representatives.”

Under the bill, programs that have expired authorizations would be subject to a 10 percent spending cut the first year of unauthorized status and a 15 percent cut in the second and third years. If Congress fails to reauthorize after that time, the program will be sunsetted (all funding would disappear). In addition to the sunset process, the bill also creates a Spending Accountability Commission to oversee the authorization schedule and review all mandatory spending programs.

Citizens and candidates all complain about spending and the lack of accountability but we rarely see concrete programs that would change the current system in Washington. An automatic cut in spending will get the attention of the agency and members of Congress. This is the type of fiscal discipline with need in Congress.

Viewpoints by Kerby Anderson

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