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The question of impoundment is crucial to the continuing refinement of our understanding of the duties of the executive as opposed to the legislative brancbes. The Sub-committee on Separation of Powers, under the chairmanship of Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr., of North Carolina, last year conducted hearings on this question.
DISTRIBUTION OF FEDERAL AID, HIGHWAY FUNDS, FISCAL YEAR 1973
$98, 200, 781 51, 111, 617 90, 821, 140 90, 019, 204 394, 246, 721
86, 260, 276 117, 427, 103
25, 525, 497 135, 455, 883 104, 620, 134
56, 446, 446 31, 294, 657 323, 981, 209 86, 519, 918 74,415, 032 66, 209, 608 76, 902, 497 140,524,565
28,031, 937 147, 781, 957 163, 156, 951 193, 605, 181 102, 947, 610
51, 614, 122 115, 257, 326 63, 662, 903
$74, 462,000 Nebraska.
36, 529,000 Nevada.
$38, 700, 870
73, 885, 781 234, 652, 581 66, 444, 396 25, 675, 320 129, 339, 708 139, 336, 465 131,079, 068 67, 031, 186 39, 326, 249 77, 777, 487 10,096, 657
$29. 869 os 23,490 000
18,883, 00 110, 354 000 33, 171 00 294, 758,00
75,624 COC 24, 061.000 146, 268 000 41,005, 000 79, 014 00 199.549.000 36,518,000 34,558, 000 24, 552,000
57, 603, 000 189, 992 (0 49, 431,000 18,634 000
99. 148.00 105, 154,000 95, 483.000 53, 948, 100 28, 468 (OC 58, 040, 000 10.358, 000
At the end of fiscal year 1972, approximately $6.2 billion in impounded highway construction authority has been accumulated. This amount is well orer the total Federal funding for a full year for highway development. In the new fiscal year which began July 1, 1972, the Administration has already moved to continue the cutback in highway transportation development. For the 1973 fiscal year, Congress authorized $5.625 billion, but the Administration intends to reduce activity by approximately one-fifth for a total highway program of $4.4 billion. The release of these 1973 funds temporarily reduces the total of impounded highway money but the long-term outlook is for a steady increase in the total,
Construction of vital segments of the Interstate Highway System have had to be postponed and other projects cut back correspondingly. Since 1956, the Interstate System has been our most extensive highway activity. This nationwide system of freeways is now 79 percent complete, and I am confident that this percentage would be even higher had Interstate development been allowed to continue at the rate intended by the Congress and planned for by the states.
These delays take place at a time when, as we all know, construction costs continue to rise precipitously. From the time Interstate construction began in 1956, through 1970, the highway construction cost index rose by more than 11 percent. There is no indication that the long-term prospects are for anything but continued increases. It behooves us, therefore, to complete the Interstate System as rapidly as feasible, for on an undertaking of this size, every delay can be measured in additional outlays that eventually will be required.
The members of the Committee on Public Works continue to be concerned orer impoundment of highway funding. In the Federal-Aid Highway Acts of both 1968 and 1970, there were strong expressions of congressional opposition to this ill-considered practice. These statements, however, have had no impact on the Administration. I have also communicated regularly with both the President and the Secretary of Transportation urging them to provide the full amounts authorized this year and to release the accumulated impoundments of the past. These efforts, too, have produced no results. I regret to report. The committee intends to act again this year to insist on its right to determine the funding level for the Federal-aid highway program.
The most concise explanation for the Administration's action is contained in a letter I received in May from William L. Gifford, special assistant to the Presi.
lent. In this response to communications from me, Mr. Gifford gave the followng reasons for the Administration's action.
The Administration believes that the requested level of 1972 and 1973 funding for the Federal Highway Program meets the following key criteria:
Consistent with the overall Federal economic and budgetary situation, which requires careful fiscal management and prevention of further inflationary pressures.
Adequate to maintain reasonable progress on highway construction, including the Interstate System, and a concentrated safety effort.
I do not believe that either of these reasons are consistent with fact. The unique nature of the Highway Trust Fund, as I have said, has restricted its use for highway purposes only. Other than for misleading bookkeeping purposes, the balances in the fund have no effect on other government spending. As to the inflationary aspects of highway building, I have already referred to the continuing upward trends of the cost of highway construction. The Interstate System and other roads will have to be built eventually. If we delay now, they will be built in the future at a considerably higher cost.
Mr. Gifford's contention that the Administration's highway program is adequate is a matter of subjective judgment with which I do not agree. The Congress authorized a higher level of activity based on its assessment of needs, of the ability to pay for such a program, and on the program's total impact on the Nation. We do not authorize any program capriciously and the importance of highway transportation to the well-being of our country demands that we give (areful consideration to our actions.
As I stated earlier, the question of impounding highway funds has implications broader than just its effect on our Nation's transportation system. I regret that the Executive branch fails to recognize the clear division of authority prorided in the Constitution of the United States. It is, therefore, essential that the Congress assert itself to insure the implementation of programs which it believes to be in the public interest, but also to maintain itself as a body capable of responding to the needs and wishes of the people.
Because of the need to get on with the business at hand and pass the debt ceiling bill to which was attached the much needed increase in Social Security benefits before Congress recessed for the Democratic Convention, I withdrew my amendment. However, the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Russell Long (D-La.) has given assurances that at a later date, this year, he will be ready to join with me and other concerned Senators to handle this impoundment matter and to stop the practice.
News RELEASE FROM REPRESENTATIVE OGDEN R. REID-JANUARY 16, 1973 WASHINGTON, D.C.-Congressman Ogden R. Reid (D-NY) today announced the introduction of legislation to strip the President of his power to ignore Congressional mandates and to restore “the Constitutional prerogatives of the Legislative branch."
At a press conference in Washington, Congressman Reid charged that the Executive has “usurped powers vested in the Congress by the Constitution" and has thereby “endangered the balance of powers which is the cornerstone of our democratic form of government."
Congressman Reid said that, although the Constitution vests Congress with sole authority to approve expenditures and programs, the Executive has frequently refused to follow Congressional mandates. In some cases, it has refused to carry out approved programs, such as the water pollution abatement law passed by Congress last year. In other cases it has used funds for programs without proper Congressional authority, such as the Cambodian invasion of 1970, the Phoenix assassination program and the recent massive bombing of North Vietnam.
The New York legislator noted that the Executive frequently evades Congressional supervision by exercising so-called executive privilege and refusing to provide information about its actions.
The Reid bill creates an Office of Budget and Expenditure Oversight which is solely an agency of Congress and has broad powers to withhold funds or compel spending by the Executive in accordance with Congressional mandates. The new agency also would have the authority to pass on the Administration's legis
lative proposals, to oversee implementation of Congressionally-approved programs and to force the Executive to provide Congress with any information “neca sary and proper to the discharge of the Constitutional responsibilities of Congress."
To strengthen the hand of Congress, the new agency, which is part of a re constituted General Accounting Office, would be supervised by officials nominata] by the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate and approved by both Houses by concurrent resolution. A concurrent resolution does not require Presidential approval.
A BILL To implement the Constitutional prerogatives and responsibilities of the
Legislative branch Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. That this Act may be cited as “The Congressional Oversight Act of 1973."
SEC. 2. (a) Congress hereby finds and declares that the Constitution of the United States establishes three separate branches of Government and express vests in the Congress the sole authority to enact legislation, raise rerenues. authorize expenditures, and appropriate moneys on behalf of the United States.
(b) Congress further finds and declares that the Legislative branch shall nare full, prompt and unimpaired access to any and all information available to the Executive as Congress may deem necessary and proper to the discharge of its Constitutional responsibilities.
(c) Congress further finds and declares that the Constitution directs that the Executive shall take care that the laws enacted by Congress shall be faithfully executed.
SEC. 3. In order to assure that the mandates of the Constitution shall be fully and effectively carried out, there is hereby established within the General de counting Office an Office of Budget and Expenditure Oversight, which shall exercise oversight over the Executive with respect to the preparation and administration of the Budget, the raising of revenues, the expenditure of moners, the preparation and presentation of legislative proposals, and the implementation of legislative programs enacted by Congress, and shall undertake such other responsibilities as Congress may find necessary or desirable to the maintenance of the independence and Constitutional prerogatives of the Legislative branch and shall by concurrent resolution direct.
SEC. 4. (a) Section 301 of the Budget and Accounting Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 41) is amended by inserting after "shall be independent of the executive departments and" the following: "shall be an agency of the Congress,".
(b) Section 302 of the Budget and Accounting Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 42) is amended to read as follows:
“Sec. 302. There shall be in the General Accounting Office a Comptroller General of the United States, and a Deputy Comptroller General of the l’nite States, who shall be officers of Congress. The Comptroller General shall be appointed by concurrent resolution of both Houses of Congress upon nomination by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Deputy Comptroller shall be appointed by concurrent resolution of both Houses of Congress upon nomination by the President pro tempore of the Senate. The Deputy Comptroller General shall perform such duties as may be assigned to him by the Comp roller General, or during a vacancy in that office, shall act as Comptroller General."
(c) Such Act is amended by striking out “Assistant Comptroller General" whenever it appears and inserting in lieu thereof “Deputy Comptroller General."
(d) Section 303 of such Act (31 U.S.C. 43) is amended by striking out 'fifteen" in the first sentence thereof and inserting in lieu thereof "five": by striking out the second sentence thereof : and by striking out "joint" in the third sentence thereof and inserting in lieu thereof “concurrent".
(e) The second and third paragraphs of such section 303 are each amended by striking out “ten" and inserting in lieu thereof "three".
(f) The Office of Budget and Expenditure Oversight shall have a Director and such other employees as the Comptroller General may deem necessary and appropriate. The director shall be appointed by concurrent resolution of both Houses of Congress upon nomination of the Comptroller General and may be removed by a concurrent resolution of both Houses of Congress.
(g) A person serving as Comptroller General or Deputy Comptroller General on the date of enactment of the Act may continue to serve after the sixtieth das after such date only if within such 60-day period he is reappointed to his office
if priation only if
in the manner provided by section 302 of the Budget and Accounting Act, 1921, as amended by this section. Any person so reappointed shall be subject to the method of removal and terms of service provided in such section 302.
SEC. 5. The Office of Budget and Expenditure Oversight, under such rules as the Comptroller General may prescribe, shall
(1) conduct a continuing review of the fiscal requirements necessary to fund existing programs at levels adequate to achieve their legislative purpose;
(2) analyze the Budget, supplementary budgetary summaries and legislative proposals transmitted by or on behalf of the President to Congress and, within 45 days of the transmittal thereof by the President, submit a written report to the Congress evaluating
(A) in connection with the Budget or a revenue proposal, the accuracy of revenue projections therein and the adequacy of funding provided thereby to maintain existing and proposed programs in a manner consistent with the intent of Congress :
(B) the extent to which proposed expenditures conform to the legislative programs of Congress and will assure the full implementation of such programs in a manner consistent with the intent of Congress;
(C) the necessity for any legislative proposal which would create a new function, activity or authority or eliminate, restrict, or expand any existing function, activity or authority approved by Congress and the extent to which such proposal is consistent with the legislative programs of the Congress; and
(D) such other aspects of the Budget or of such a summary or proposal as the Comptroller General may deem desirable and appropriate in order that Congress be provided with all information necessary to
the discharge of its Constitutional responsibilities; and (3) submit to Congress from time to time, but no less frequently than twice a year, a full and detailed report on the implementation of legislative programs, the accuracy of budget projections, the adequacy of revenues and such other information as the Comptroller General shall deem necessary or either House of Congress by resolution may request to assist such House in
fulfifiling its constitutional responsibilities, Sec. 6. (a) No officer (including the President) or employee of the United States having authority to expend or oblige funds shall impound an appropriation, unless
(1) prior to impounding such appropriation, such officer or employee transmits to the Comptroller General a proposal to impound such appropriation and the Comptroller General approves such proposal in accordance with subsection (b), or
(2) such officer or employee is expressly authorized or directed to impound an appropriation in specific circumstances preseribed by statute. Section 3679 of the Revised Statutes (31 U.S.C. 665) shall not be considered an express authorization or direction to impound an appropriation, for purposes of paragraph (2). (b) The Comptroller General shall approve a proposal to impound an appro
(1) written justification for the proposal to impound has been transmitted to him and to each House of Congress by the person proposing such impounding; and
(2) he determines that such proposal to impound is consistent with the legislative programs of Congress and would not result in the failure of a program adequately to achieve its legislative purpose : and
(3) neither House of Congress has passed a resolution stating its disapproval of such proposal to impound by the end of the thirtieth calendar day of session of Congress after the date on which written justification therefor
is transmitted to it. Any disapproval by the Comptroller General of the proposal to impound an appropriation shall become null if both Houses of Congress subsequently by concurrent resolution state their approval of the impoundment in question. (C) For purposes of this section, the term “impound an appropriation"
(1) to make or authorize expenditures from any appropriation, during the period (if any) specified by Congress by law for expending such appropriation, in an aggregate amount which is less than the full amount appropriated by Congress for the jourpose in question, or
(2) to create or authorize obligations under any appropriation, during the period (if any) specified by Congress by law for obligating such appropriation, in an aggregate amount which is less than the full amount appro
priated by Congress for the purpose in question. SEC. 7. In order to enable the Office of Budget and Expenditure Orersight to discharge its responsibilities under this Act, the head of each departmect and establishment in the Executive shall submit to the Office of Budget and Expenditure Oversight a duplicate copy of all legislative and budgetary requests submitted by him to the Office of Management and Budget pursuant to section 215 of the Budget and Accounting Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 23) or any other statute or Executive order.
SEC. 8. In order to fully implement the provisions of this Act and to supple. ment the mandate provided in section 313 of the Budget and Accounting let, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 313), the General Accounting Office is authorized to require by subpena or otherwise the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of such documents, books, papers, and correspondence as it may deem necessary for the purpose of carrying out its duties. In case of a dis obedience to a subpena the General Accounting Office may invoke the aid of any district court of the United States in requiring the attendance and testimons of witnesses and the production of documents, books, papers, and correspondence under the provisions of this section. Any district court of the United States within the jurisdiction of which an investigation or inquiry s being conducted by the General Accounting Office may, in the event of neglect or refusal to obes a subpena issued under this section, issue an order requiring the respondent comply with the terms of the subpena. Failure to obey such an order of the court may be punished by such court as a contempt thereof.
Sec. 9. Whenever the Comptroller General shall determine that moners appropriated by Congress are about to be, are being, or have been obligated or expended in a manner or for purposes not consistent with the intent of Congress, he shall re. voke all warrants upon which such moneys were disbursed pursuant to section 11 of the Act of July 31, 1894 (31 U.S.C. 76). Any department or establishment affected by such a revocation may request the Comptroller General to reissue nei warrants for the disbursement of moneys for specific purposes (as set forth in such request), and the Comptroller General shall reissue the same, except for moners for the purposes found by the Comptroller General to have been not consistent with the intent of Congress. Such new warrants shall not require the signature of the Secretary of the Treasury. The revocation of any warrant shall remain in effect until Congress otherwise directs by concurrent resolution.
SEC. 10. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to limit the duties or functions of the General Accounting Office elsewhere provided by law.
Sec. 11. There is hereby authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act.
"THE CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT ACT OF 1973" (SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS)
Sec. 1: Entitles act “The Congressional Oversight Act of 1973."
(a) The Constitution vests in Congress sole authority to enact legisla. tion, raise revenues, authorize expenditures, and appropriate moneys;
(b) Congress shall have full access to all information available to the Executive necessary to the discharge of Congress' Constitutional responsibilities;
(c) The Executive is directed by the Constitution to faithfully execute all laws enacted by Congress. SEC. 3: Establishes in the General Accounting Office (GAO) an Office of Budget and Expenditure Oversight (OBEO) and directs that it shall oversee the Executive with respect to the following:
Preparation and administration of the Budget;
Implementation of legislative programs enacted by Congress.
(6) Provides that the Comptroller General and Deputy Comptroller General shall be officers of Congress and shall be appointed by Congress ;
(c) Redesignates “Assistant Comptroller General" as "Deputy Comptroller General ;'