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house Bill H.R. 2505

Should Unauthorized Federal ‘Zombie’ Programs be Phased Out in 3 Years?

Argument in favor

Federal programs that haven't been reauthorized by Congress shouldn’t continue to spend taxpayer dollars. Winding down those “zombie” programs over a three-year period and cutting their funding gives Congress time to consider reauthorizations while saving taxpayer money.

Pat's Opinion
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Today at 5:43 PM
I would have to say no one of the comments was that this was supported by the Republicans to just take the money away. The second opinion said that I’m the only ones that would know would be the recipients that didn’t get the money anymore so I don’t think it’s a good plan best to leave it the way it is and that way everyone that cared about this bill in the first place would see it through the next couple of years. Two or three years not a good idea. At first I thought it was till I started reading some opinions and then I see where it’s really leading up to. There are no quick fixes
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B.R.'s Opinion
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11/01/2019
I voted yes, but think the review should transpire every two years. As obvious, too often a program is initiated and then never evaluated for its effectiveness. Additionally, I am assuming that when approving a program, a clear objective along with goals are included in the request/bill.
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JTK's Opinion
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11/02/2019
Yes. $300B is a huge amount of money! Even if only $150B of those programs actually lapsed, it frees up money to fund things like Social Security, Medicare, education, mental illness programs and, yes, even the wall!! It’s could also be a $150B we don’t borrow!! heaven forbid!! The heck with waiting three years to sunset. So it in 3 MONTHS!!
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Argument opposed

Congress fails to do its job on-time with stunning regularity, and that shouldn’t prevent programs with a lapsed authorization from continuing to receive funding and operate as they normally would. Lawmakers can already cut off or eliminate programs they feel should be stopped.

larubia's Opinion
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Today at 5:26 PM
This would make sense if only we had a Congress that worked. We don’t and I don’t foresee this changing anytime in the near future.
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Dave's Opinion
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Today at 5:17 PM
This would be auto pilot killing programs instead of auto pilot to funding programs. They can delete, cancel or continue any funding at any time If they did their job like they’re supposed too and like they were elected to do. I can see auto pilot for funding, but not auto piloted kill programs! Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R - WA) being lazy and not doing your job only causes more problems! If you don’t have time to do oversight and review spending on programs, you won’t have time to save needed programs. So far the do nothing senate Republicans does fund what is needed and fund tax cut to the wealthy and corporations. It is totally understandable Heritage foundation and freedomworks (both back Republicans propaganda / rhetoric trickle down economics) would like this, they care less about America people or any safety nets like helping the small businesses, unemployed and states.
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Brian's Opinion
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Today at 5:06 PM
I like the idea of this, but until Congress can actually pass a complete budget on time on a regular basis, this seems like a poor move. Valuable programs such as SNAP have to fight for funding or face cuts way too often. Can you imagine if a Congress failed to reauthorize SNAP, Children's Health Insurance, or the Violence Against Women's Act because they couldn't get it together, and these programs ceased to exist? Is this what Republicans want with this bill?
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What is House Bill H.R. 2505?

This bill — the Unauthorized Spending Accountability (USA) Act of 2019 — would wind down expired and unauthorized federal programs that still receive funding over the course of three years. Funding for the “zombie” programs or agencies (as this bill calls them) would be reduced during each of the three years before the phase out is completed. If the zombie program or agency is reauthorized at any point during the three years after this bill’s enactment, funding reductions and sunset clauses would be lifted and the program could operate at full funding.

The three-year timeline to the end of all zombie programs would be triggered as soon as this legislation is enacted. All reauthorizations would have to include a sunset clause. During the first year, zombie programs would face a 10% funding reduction (aka sequester) and receive only 90% of the funding they were allocated in the program’s original expiration year. In the second and third years the sequester would rise to 15% before the program’s final expiration at the end of the third year.

A Spending Accountability Commission (SAC) would be created and charged with: 

  • Making a full authorization schedule of all discretionary programs and agencies;
  • Reviewing mandatory spending programs; and
  • Determining mandatory spending cuts. 

SAC could propose a new sequester (or funding cut) schedule to Congress for consideration. In order to override a sequester, the SAC would have to report mandatory cuts in an equal amount that Congress could then consider enacting. The SAC’s reauthorization schedule must limit reauthorizations to three years, include the include the budgetary level reductions established by this bill, and establish a mechanism for replacing the budgetary level reductions with reductions to mandatory spending programs.

The House of Representatives would be required to consider the SAC’s proposal using expedited legislative procedures. 

Impact

Anyone concerned with unauthorized government spending; federal programs funded by unauthorized spending; the to-be-formed SAC; and Congress.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2505

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to prevent taxpayer dollars from going to "zombie" federal programs that continue to operate after their spending authorization has expired:

“We have a fiscal crisis in America today — too much of the federal government is on autopilot. The USA Act is simple, it ensures that every penny of taxpayer money is subject to the scrutiny of the American people. It means that the people’s representatives are doing their jobs to effectively review, rethink, and possibly eliminate programs that are no longer needed. It means restoring the power of the purse and ending unauthorized spending.”

When she introduced this bill last Congress, Rep. McMorris-Rodgers said:

“Too much of government is currently on autopilot, and it’s time to challenge the status quo. A big part of the problem is due to what people in Washington, D.C. call ‘unauthorized spending’ — spending on government programs that have not been authorized by the people’s representatives. This means that the American people are prevented from exercising their power of the purse.”

Americans for Tax Reform supports this bill: 

“With the national debt at over $22 trillion and counting, Congress must work on streamlining and reducing government spending as much as possible. While Democrats control the House of Representatives, relying on Congress to reduce spending in and of itself is a difficult proposition, which is why an automatic sunset and sequestration period for unauthorized programs is necessary. H.R. 2505 is an important piece of taxpayer-friendly legislation that sets Congress back on a path of fiscal accountability. Congress should swiftly pass it, and President Trump should sign it into law.”

This legislation has 31 bipartisan cosponsors, including 28 Republicans and three Democrats, in the 116th Congress. Last Congress, it had 39 Republican cosponsors and didn’t receive a committee vote



Of NoteAccording to a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), $310 billion was appropriated to be spent on programs with expired authorizations for fiscal year 2016. This was after $294 billion was spent on such programs the prior year.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell and Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Kurtis Garbutt)

AKA

Unauthorized Spending Accountability Act of 2019

Official Title

To provide for a reauthorizing schedule for unauthorized Federal programs, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedMay 2nd, 2019
    This would make sense if only we had a Congress that worked. We don’t and I don’t foresee this changing anytime in the near future.
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    I would have to say no one of the comments was that this was supported by the Republicans to just take the money away. The second opinion said that I’m the only ones that would know would be the recipients that didn’t get the money anymore so I don’t think it’s a good plan best to leave it the way it is and that way everyone that cared about this bill in the first place would see it through the next couple of years. Two or three years not a good idea. At first I thought it was till I started reading some opinions and then I see where it’s really leading up to. There are no quick fixes
    Like
    Follow
    Share
    This would be auto pilot killing programs instead of auto pilot to funding programs. They can delete, cancel or continue any funding at any time If they did their job like they’re supposed too and like they were elected to do. I can see auto pilot for funding, but not auto piloted kill programs! Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R - WA) being lazy and not doing your job only causes more problems! If you don’t have time to do oversight and review spending on programs, you won’t have time to save needed programs. So far the do nothing senate Republicans does fund what is needed and fund tax cut to the wealthy and corporations. It is totally understandable Heritage foundation and freedomworks (both back Republicans propaganda / rhetoric trickle down economics) would like this, they care less about America people or any safety nets like helping the small businesses, unemployed and states.
    Like
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    Share
    I like the idea of this, but until Congress can actually pass a complete budget on time on a regular basis, this seems like a poor move. Valuable programs such as SNAP have to fight for funding or face cuts way too often. Can you imagine if a Congress failed to reauthorize SNAP, Children's Health Insurance, or the Violence Against Women's Act because they couldn't get it together, and these programs ceased to exist? Is this what Republicans want with this bill?
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    So let me get this right. Congress passes the funding legislation, then no one does follow up to see if the money was well spent. And we keep reelecting these people. Might that be the problem. I wish someone would give me a bunch of money that I would not be accountable for, and neither would the giver. So I guess most of these programs could be eliminated and the only ones who notice are the benefactors of the unwatched donations. Either Congress needs to monitor funds spent, or get out of the money business, and maybe the passing bills business. Whatever happened to responsibility and oversight?
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    Although this looks like a good idea on the surface, it is introduced by a greedy Republican So I don't trust that they will fund the programs that are actually needed
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    I voted yes, but think the review should transpire every two years. As obvious, too often a program is initiated and then never evaluated for its effectiveness. Additionally, I am assuming that when approving a program, a clear objective along with goals are included in the request/bill.
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    This law is designed to kill past legislation that current lawmakers don’t like. It is not designed with concern for spending. If there was a true concern for spending then republican should reign in the out of control deficit increases under president Trump. Calling these bills zombies is a fear tactic designed to make the public think there is some out of control hidden spending on pet projects when in fact the truth is exactly the opposite. Congress is not operating efficiently and this zombie rule would slow things down even further and prevent action on current legislation and policy.
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    These programs should be considered individually for either elimination or reauthorization, not lumped into a huge bin and burned without consideration. Many of these SHOULD have been reauthorized and funded for effect, but we have a congress that has been generally disfunctional for over a decade now. Once Congress finishes cleaning up more urgent issues (like having a criminal Administration to correct) we can get on with looking at these lessor issues. properly.
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    Can we trust congress I believe for the first time in my life I will shout hell no If this impeachment doesn't go through it will not matter. Trump land constitution trashed. He is in line to compete with Hitler and other truants Yes cut the bills sitting idle. Like Ivanka and Jared
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    This is 1000% TERRIFYING legislation. It's a blatant attempt to give Republicans a way to get rid of any program they don't like. The freaking FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION is on this list. You cannot just lump these programs together with a scary name that doesn't mean anything and then get to destroy entire agencies without consulting the people. This is a power grab so that if they don't like a program, they can just refuse to reauthorize it for three years and then end it. That is not how government works, this is unconstitutional and outrageous, and Republicans are making a plain attempt in broad daylight to create a way around the will of the people so they can do whatever they want and eliminate any service, program, or agency they don't like. Every Republican who signs on to this should be removed from office immediately. You are elected representatives of the people and you swore to uphold the constitution. This is an outright violation of that oath of office.
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    Each program should be looked at on individual basis. Rand Paul not concerned when trump spends on golfing every week/month taxpayers money. Or when you guys fly first class or spend on lavish meals with taxpayer money. How about looking into that too!!
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    This is just like each of us reviewing our subscriptions and auto-pay to ensure we are making use of the things we are paying for. If we aren't then we cut the payment and stop the payment plan. Why should government act differently. Respect the sweat of the people who are taxed to pay for these programs. Let's make sure it is meaningfully and mindfully used.
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    That fact that we are calling them zombie programs says enough. No one is watching or responsible for these programs so why do they exist and how long has this problem been around.
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    Yes. $300B is a huge amount of money! Even if only $150B of those programs actually lapsed, it frees up money to fund things like Social Security, Medicare, education, mental illness programs and, yes, even the wall!! It’s could also be a $150B we don’t borrow!! heaven forbid!! The heck with waiting three years to sunset. So it in 3 MONTHS!!
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    When the money stops then you’ll hear the clamor and it will be easier to evaluate a program.
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    It really upsets me to hear about things like this that more than likely has been going on for decades. This money spent in the right way could have saved how many lives in regards to healthcare that some people always say “where’s the money going to come from,” its been there all along. How many jobs could have been created for citizens as well as veterans, especially in urban cities where there is a deficit in good jobs. How many schools could have stayed open or better yet funding for public two year colleges. When will America change, when.
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    Democrats put wasteful pork in all their bills for this reason. Stop it!
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    Not sure which way to go on this one. I’m nota fan of making government bigger so
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    I don’t like 3 years.
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