To: Members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
From: Andrew Lautz and Alex Milliken, National Taxpayers Union
Date: March 24, 2023
Subject: Taxpayer Considerations for March 29 Markup
On behalf of National Taxpayers Union (NTU), we thank Chair Gary Peters (D-MI) and Ranking Member Rand Paul (R-KY) for including in the Committee’s March 29 several legislative proposals that are important to America’s taxpayers. Please consider the policy experts and advocates at NTU and our sister organization, NTU Foundation, a resource to Committee members and staff throughout the 118th session of Congress.
2. Legislation NTU Supports at March 29 Markup
NTU is proud to support the following bipartisan bills at the Committee’s March 29 markup:
- S. 666, the Identifying and Eliminating Wasteful Programs Act from Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Mike Braun (R-IN): This good governance legislation would require federal agencies to work with Congress on eliminating or consolidating unnecessary or duplicative federal programs. Unnecessary or duplicative programs hurt taxpayers by wasting limited tax dollars. They also hurt the individuals, businesses, and organizations that federal programs are supposed to help. Companion legislation in the House is led by Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Nancy Mace (R-SC). In addition to NTU, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, R Street Institute, and Progressive Policy Institute have supported this legislation. Similar legislation passed the Senate in 2022.
- S. ___, No Congressionally Obligated Recurring Revenue Used as Pensions to Incarcerated Officials Now (No CORRUPTION) Act from Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Rick Scott (R-FL): This legislation would close a loophole that allows former members of Congress to collect taxpayer-funded pensions after they've been sentenced to jail. Under current law a pension is only stripped once the lawmaker is “finally convicted,” meaning that pensions are still being paid out until the appeals process runs its course. The appeals process can take several years and pensions paid during this time are not clawed back even after final conviction. Those who serve in Congress should be held to the highest of standards in order to instill trust and confidence in our government, anyone who does not measure up should not receive a taxpayer-funded pension.
- S. 780, Duplication Scoring Act of 2023, from Ranking Member Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH): This legislation would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to analyze proposed legislation for the purpose of preventing duplication of and overlap with existing government programs. This legislation is common sense, as it provides lawmakers more information on whether a program already exists before they pass a bill with new authorizations. As noted by the lead sponsors, the bill was previously “reported favorably out of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee by voice vote on March 17, 2021.”
- S. 108, Guidance Clarity Act of 2023, from Sens. James Lankford (R-OK) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ): This legislation would require all federal agencies to include a guidance clarity statement that states the guidance is not issued in accordance with the rulemaking process and therefore is not legally binding. While guidance documents are solely intended to clarify an agency’s policy or interpretation of a regulation, agencies have recently used guidance to issue new policy as if it were a binding regulation. Since guidance is not subject to the same public process as formal rules, which are required to be shared with the public for comments and input prior to finalization, regulatory guidance documents can be used to circumvent public input. Similar legislation previously passed the Senate in 2021, and a House companion bill passed the House in 2021 as well.
- S. 111, Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act of 2023, from Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), and Chair Gary Peters (D-MI): This bipartisan legislation would make the regulatory process more transparent and make regulations much easier to understand for the general public. Specifically, this legislation would require federal agencies submitting proposed rules to summarize the proposal in 100 words or fewer, and in “plain language.” It’s a small and simple fix, but one that would better connect agencies and their missions to the citizens they work for. Similar legislation passed the Senate in 2019.
- S. 679, GAO Database Modernization Act of 2023, from Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Chair Gary Peters (D-MI): This legislation would fill important gaps in the information federal agencies are required to furnish GAO when they revise, revoke, suspend, or replace a regulation. The GAO Database Modernization Act passed the Senate unanimously in 2020 and 2022, suggesting this legislation has strong bipartisan support.
3. Contact Information
Should you have any questions about the recommendations in this memo, please do not hesitate to reach out to Andrew Lautz at firstname.lastname@example.org and Alex Milliken at email@example.com.