At last, one House Republican is ready to use the Constitutional power of the purse to reign in Attorney General Eric Holder’s lawlessness.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Virginia), chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees Eric Holder’s Justice Department will utilize the power of the purse to withhold funds from the Justice Department.
Eric Holder has been lobbying the Republican controlled House for a larger budget. Wolf says he will withhold $1,000,000 for every instance of failure for Eric Holder to respond to Wolf’s demands for information.
The Constitution vests the House of Representatives with the power of the purse, an enormously effective tool for reigning in abuses by the executive branch. If the House does not allocate money to Obama’s Justice Department, then Holder cannot function.
Wolf has sought dozens of reports required from the DOJ under the FY 2013 Omnibus Act. The reporting requirement was an effort to shine a light on the behavior of the Justice Department. It was an exercise of Congressional oversight. The law required Holder to provide Congress and Wolf’s committee 66 separate reports about DOJ activity.
Not surprisingly, Holder has ignored the law and is in default of the reporting requirement. Wolf vows to withhold $1,000,000 to the DOJ budget for each overdue report. From Wolf’s opening statement to an Appropriations hearing last week:
“There are still 25 outstanding reports and briefings from the FY 2013 bill, and that doesn’t include any of the additional reports directed in the FY 2014 bill, which was subsequently signed into law earlier this year. There are already 18 reports in the FY 2014 bill that are overdue to the committee.
“With a workforce of more than 100,000 employees, I know that the department certainly has the capacity to provide the directed reports. What is lacking is the will to be responsive to the Congress on the part of the department’s leadership. That is what I find particularly disappointing.
“Today, I am announcing a new policy that these overdue reports will no longer be tolerated by the committee. When our FY 2015 bill is marked up this spring, I intend to withhold $1 million for every overdue report from the FY 2013 and FY 2014 bills. The funds will be provided instead to agencies in this bill that comply with reporting requirements. With the current backlog of 43 reports, this could be a significant reduction in funds for the department. But you have now been given fair warning that these overdue reports will now be taken into account when the subcommittee determines your budget.
“For the record, I find it extremely unfortunate that I have to take this action, but I know no other way to encourage the department to follow through on its required obligations to this Committee.”
Wolf might start with the particularly out-of-control Civil Rights Division.