Leahy Lauds GAO Reports Tracking Congressionally Directed Spending

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022) – Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Wednesday praised the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) publication of six reports tracking the implementation of Congressionally Directed Spending and Community Project Funding in the Fiscal Year 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act.  The reports were published at the direction of the Chairman under new rules to increase transparency and accountability on the process commonly referred to “earmarking” in fiscal year 2022.

Leahy said: “It is Congress that holds the power of the purse.  Congressionally Directed Spending allows Members to place this power in the hands of community leaders across the country so that federal resources can be directed to where they are most needed and to where they will do the most good.  Done transparently and with accountability, Congressionally Directed Spending can be a powerful tool to revitalize our communities and spur economic growth.  I am glad to see that GAO has followed through with our direction to track and audit this spending so that the American people can see where their tax dollars are being put to work.”

In addition to the existing requirements on Congressionally Directed Spending under Rule XLIV of the Standing Rules of the Senate, new reforms established by Leahy include:

  • A 1 percent cap on discretionary spending for congressionally directed spending items;
  • Ban on congressionally directed spending items to for-profit entities;
  • Require Senators to post online their congressionally directed spending item requests, as well as their financial certification disclosures attesting that they do not have any financial interest in any of the items requested; and
  • Require the Government Accountability Office to audit a sample of enacted congressionally directed spending items and report its findings to Congress, a process which has begun with the publishing of these reports. 

You can read more about these reforms here, and can find the first of an anticipated 18 reports published by GAO to track Congressionally Directed Spending and Community Project Funding here.

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