The U.S. government spent $332 billion on programs that expired or were never reauthorized by Congress.
1,046 expired federal programs received funding in 2020, such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Legal Services Corporation, and the United States Institute of Peace. These so-called "zombie programs" date back to the 1970s, and are able to keep operating because courts ruled they don't need Congressional authorization to receive funding, which allowed lawmakers to ensure that the programs and agencies continued to function.
"Imagine if Congress had to reauthorize FEC," Allen Schick, a professor at the University of Maryland, explained to Politico. "Should they be in the business of it? Should there be limits on campaign finance? Is it too politicized? What kinds of limits? What about super PACs? The list is endless. The better part of discretion is to do nothing."
Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers introduced a bill that would defund programs that have not been reauthorized, Under the USA Act, programs would see their budgets cut 90% of their previous budget.
"The USA Act is simple — it makes sure that every penny of taxpayer money is subject to the scrutiny of the American people who are footing the bill. It means effectively reviewing, rethinking, and possibly eliminating programs that are no longer needed. It's time for Congress to restore the power of the purse and end unauthorized spending," Rodgers said in a statement.
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