A new bill introduced in Congress would allow Bush administration cronies to recommend sweeping changes in the federal government — including the elimination of entire programs — and force those changes through Congress, according to the watchdog group OMB Watch.
Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) introduced H.R. 5766, the “Government Efficiency Act,” the long-awaited sunset commission bill produced after months of negotiations led by House Majority Leader John Boehner. OMB Watch’s director of regulatory policy, Robert Shull, issued this statement:
“This bill is undemocratic. The bill would create unelected, unaccountable sunset commissions and give them the power to decide important questions that Congress should be answering — questions about the structure and function of the entire federal government.
“When it comes to deciding whether or not Head Start should exist, or Veterans Affairs, or the Environmental Protection Agency, that’s the role of Congress, not a group of Bush administration cronies allowed to operate in the shadows.
“Federal programs are important to so many things we all take for granted, like cops on the beat, drinking water free of poisons, teachers in our schools, and workplaces that are healthy and safe. They’re just too important to be left up to an unelected sunset commission that’s not even required to hold hearings or let the public have its say.
“This is Congress’s job. But the Tiahrt bill would abandon that responsibility and give yet more power to the White House. The White House would appoint all the members of the sunset commissions, and these executive branch bodies would have the power to force their recommendations through Congress. Congress would have an impossible choice: either allow the sunset commissions to hijack the congressional calendar and force committees to ignore other priorities in order to take up the commissions’ proposals for changing government, or else have their hands tied and their mouths gagged as the proposals get fast-tracked all the way to a floor vote.
“If Congress is really interested in fiscal responsibility or stopping waste, it should do its job of oversight. It shouldn’t be giving its job away.”