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house Bill H.R. 3653

Should Federal Agencies Be Allowed to Accept Donations of Goods?

Argument in favor

There’s no reason to prevent citizens from making donations to federal agencies that are dealing with a crisis, as the shortage of supplies at border detention facilities demonstrated. This bill would allow agencies to accept donations of goods.

Argument opposed

While this bill may be well-intended, federal agencies won’t have the resources to vet donations of goods they receive while they’re dealing with a crisis which could raise health & safety problems, and logistical problems as far as storage.

What is House Bill H.R. 3653?

This bill — the Charity And Relief In Disarray And Distress (CARIDAD) Act  — would allow employees or officers of the federal government or the District of Columbia to accept donations of goods. Under current law, the Antideficiency Act generally prohibits federal agencies & D.C. from accepting voluntary services or employing personal services that aren’t authorized by law, except in cases of emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property. This bill would specify that “voluntary services” doesn’t include the donation of goods.

This bill’s acronym, CARIDAD, is the Spanish word for “charity.”


People who would benefit from goods donated to the federal government; and federal agencies that would receive donated goods.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3653

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) introduced this bill to allow the federal government to accept outside donations of goods, particularly those intended for children and families detained for illegal immigration after Customs & Border Protection (CBP) was barred from accepting donations because of the Antideficiency Act:

“As the leader of the free world, we have a moral obligation to process these migrants in a sanitary and safe environment. Our fellow Americans have stepped up and we should empower them to assist their fellow man. This legislation would remove existing barriers and allow them to do that. All humans, no matter who they are, have the right to be treated with decency and respect.”

Former CBP policy adviser Theresa Cardinal Brown explained why the agency was prohibited from accepting donations under the Antideficiency Act:

“That law is a law passed by Congress that says the government cannot accept goods and services without remuneration. Because it cannot spend or use things that have not been appropriated to it by Congress. If (CBP) was able to accept donations outside of that it would be overspending what it was authorized to spend… [Ethical issues would arise] if the executive gets to decide from whom it gets to accept donations and for what.”

This legislation hasn’t been considered by the House Oversight & Reform Committee and currently has no cosponsors. A similar bill known as the Charitable Donations Freedom Act has been introduced by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX).


Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Satran / Public Domain)



Official Title

To amend section 1342 of title 31, United States Code (the Antideficiency Act), to define the term voluntary services.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedJuly 9th, 2019

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