Congressman Jason Smith, R-8th District, introduced two pieces of legislation Wednesday he says will “rein in government federal agencies ability to spend fines, fees, settlements and penalties they are levying on American taxpayers.”
H.R. 5551, the End EPA Rogue Spending Act, introduced by Smith seeks to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from spending any fine, private settlement, penalty or fee they collect.
“I introduced the bill in response to the fact that, while Congress has decreased the EPA’s budget by 21 percent since 2010, the EPA continues to find other avenues to generate new resources to spend — namely by attacking hardworking taxpayers with new and more aggressive penalties. This bill continues my fight against harmful EPA regulations.”
In 2015, Smith introduced the END EPA Advertising Act to stop the EPA from using taxpayer money to hire public relations contractors. He also lead a bi-partisan letter in 2014 sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asking for an extension for people affected by the EPA’s new rule on emission standards for existing power plants. Additionally, Smith has worked to defund regulations the EPA has authored such as the Waters of the United States rule.
“The EPA is an agency out of control,” Smith said. “They profit off the lives of hardworking folks in Missouri through outrageous fines and fees. These fees then sit in a slush fund where un-elected bureaucrats can spend the money how they see fit. My bill would help rein in this agency and restore the true power of the purse to the people’s representatives in Congress.”
Smith, along with Congressman Gary Palmer, R-Alabama, also co-introduced H.R. 5499, also known as the Agency Accountability Act.
“Like the EPA, many other agencies have the authority to collect fines, fees and other revenues outside of appropriated funds,” Smith said. “These funds are then used to offset cuts in these agencies’ budgets which Congress has made. According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the federal government collected $516 billion in user fees alone in 2015. This has led to many agencies being unaccountable for certain acts and has substantially limited congressional oversight.”
According to Smith, the Agency Accountability Act would “remove the incentive for agencies to continue to increase fines, fees, penalties and other assessments and put the control back in the hands of elected representatives and the American taxpayer.”
“After it was uncovered that the IRS was using a slush fund of $500 million of taxpayer dollars without Congressional approval, I introduced my IRS OWES Act in April,” he said. “It was passed by the House with bipartisan support that gives the Article I power back to Congress. Article I of the U.S. Constitution grants the people, through their elected representatives in Congress, the power of the purse, not federal agencies.
“Congressman Palmer and I have sponsored important bills that would truly restore Article I authority. This has been a priority of mine since the people of Missouri sent me to Washington. The Washington bureaucracy has become too big and too powerful, and they have their sights on the American people through crushing regulatory burdens and exuberant fines and fees.
“With these bills, the people’s voice through their representatives is being reclaimed and the vision that the Founders had for our country is being recovered. I am glad to join Mr. Palmer and many other members of the Republican Conference in restoring Constitutional power.”
“The EPA is an agency out of control.” — U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, 8th District
Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or firstname.lastname@example.org