House Tries Again to ‘Stop Government Abuse’

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Republican-controlled House has dubbed this week “Stop Government Abuse Week,” planning votes in the coming days on a dozen measures to increase government oversight.

The House will vote on an array of bills to boost transparency of agency operations and the regulatory process. House GOP leadership said the set of bills is meant to curb President Obama’s alleged executive overreach.

“The Obama administration continues to abuse its power through selective enforcement of the laws and the use of executive actions to bypass Congress,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said in a statement. “We will increase transparency and accountability in the spending of taxpayer dollars and the impact of federal mandates…We will continue the fight to put our citizens first and to restore the American people’s trust in our government and faith in our economy.”

The package of bills will include the Taxpayers Right to Know Act, which is sponsored by Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., and would require federal agencies to identify and describe each program they administer, the costs to administer them, the number of program beneficiaries and the number of both federal and contract staff involved for each service. The bill would require each agency to post all of this information on its website.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would cost $100 million over the next five years.

Another measure -- the Taxpayer Transparency Act -- would require federal agencies to include a disclaimer on any mailing, brochure, television or radio ad, email or other communication to identify it as paid for with taxpayer money.

The House also will vote on a revised version of the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, sponsored by Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va.  The legislation would overhaul the way government purchases and manages information technology.

Two separate bills would target the Internal Revenue Service, which Republicans have continually derided since the agency’s inspector general found employees singled out certain groups, mostly conservative, when considering their tax-exempt status. Proposed by Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., the measures would require the IRS to tell taxpayers when it sends their information to other agencies and prohibit it from inquiring about an individual’s religious, political or social beliefs.

Other measures the House will consider this week include increasing transparency of federal mandates, simplifying the Freedom of Information Act, denying federal funding for certain projects that abuse eminent domain powers, mandating more frequent updates on new regulations and boosting accountability at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

This is the second attempt by House Republicans to “stop government abuse” en masse; the House passed the Stop Government Abuse Act in August, which included a series of measures lumped together that specifically targeted federal employees. House Democrats vehemently opposed the legislation, which ultimately stalled in the Senate.

“This is part of a reckless campaign to demonize federal employees,” Connolly said at the time. 

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