Federal Agencies & Programs (including LSC and Many Others) Could Be on Chopping Block Without Public Debate if Sunset Commission Bills Become Law
Monday, May 01, 2006
- Organization: Brennan Center's Legal Services E-lert
Two bills in the U.S. House of Representatives would create an unelected "Sunset Commission" with the power to review federal programs and recommend their "sunset" (i.e., termination or consolidation). The leading bill, sponsored by Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), would direct the new Sunset Commission to review the status of virtually all federal programs and agencies, including LSC, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Education. The bill would exempt federal entitlement programs and the Department of Defense. The Sunset Commission's recommendations to Congress would be fast-tracked -- the bill severely curtails the opportunity for legislators to offer amendments or debate the Commission's recommendations. A related bill, sponsored by Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX), would require Congress to take action to reauthorize programs within two years of the issuance of the Commission's recommendations. Absent timely reauthorization, the program would automatically terminate. Robert Shull, Regulatory Policy Director of the nonpartisan OMB Watch, says, "These proposals would give the White House a second chance to destroy the programs that they try but fail to de-fund in the appropriations process. The executive would have tremendous authority, almost unchecked, to gut the programs that protect our food and medicine, educate our kids, and provide urgently needed help to low-income communities." Members of the conservative Republican Study Committee in March reportedly agreed to support the House budget resolution in exchange for a guarantee from the leadership that there would be a floor vote on creation of the Sunset Commission. OMB Watch is leading a coalition to stop the Sunset Commission from becoming law.
More information is available at http://www.ombwatch.org/sunset Based on original reporting by Brennan Center staff.