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.