Thursday, April 17, 2014

Congressman Wolf's Fight for Transparency with DOJ

Even the New York Times. which views as its job to defend the President in almost all cases including saying he did not lie when he said “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it”, has called President Obama out for being a complete fraud on his promises of transparency

Congressman Frank Wolf is doing more than calling out President Obama; he is going after arguably the least transparency agency, the Department of Justice:

“Today, I am announcing a new policy that these overdue reports will no longer be tolerated by the committee. When our Fiscal Year 2015 bill is marked up this spring, I intend to withhold $1 million for every overdue report from the FY 2013 and FY 2014 bills. The funds will be provided instead to agencies in this bill that comply with reporting requirements. With the current backlog of 43 reports, this could be a significant reduction in funds for the department. But you have now been given fair warning that these overdue reports will now be taken into account when the subcommittee determines your budget.”

As former DOJ Attorney Christian Adams explains:

The Constitution vests the House of Representatives with the power of the purse, an enormously effective tool for reigning in abuses by the executive branch.  If the House does not allocate money to Obama’s Justice Department, then Holder cannot function.

Wolf has sought dozens of reports required from the DOJ under the FY 2013 Omnibus Act.  The reporting requirement was an effort to shine a light on the behavior of the Justice Department.  It was an exercise of Congressional oversight. The law required Holder to provide Congress and Wolf’s committee 66 separate reports about DOJ activity.

Not surprisingly, Holder has ignored the law and is in default of the reporting requirement.  Wolf vows to withhold $1,000,000 to the DOJ budget for each overdue report. 

That is exactly what the Founders intended by giving the House the power to decide how much money executive branch departments and agencies can spend and what they spend it on. The model for that provision of the U.S. Constitution was the British House of Commons, which had often used the power of the purse to force English monarchs and the House of Lords to bow to the will of the people’s representatives.

Thank you for your leadership Congressman Wolf.  If the New York Times really cared about transparency, they would join us and praise Congressman Wolf’s efforts.  

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