Legislation has been introduced to require federal agencies to return all fines, fees, penalties, and other unappropriated funds that they collect to the Treasury.
The bill, known as the Agency Accountability Act, is being introduced in both the House (H.R. 850) and the Senate (S. 299). Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL) is the sponsor in the House and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is sponsoring in the Senate.
According to the lawmakers, far too many funds are currently collected by federal agencies that bypass the normal appropriations process which leaves Congress without adequate oversight of agency actions. A press release from the lawmakers noted that in 2015 the federal government collected $516 billion in user fees alone.
Lee and Palmer said that the bill would allow Congress to assert the “power of the purse” over agencies and bring more accountability and transparency to government.
Senator Lee said in a statement:
Over time, Congress has given away their power to raise funds to the executive, allowing federal agencies to collect fines, fees, and other revenues outside of the normal appropriations process. While a significant portion of these fees and funds are used to offset appropriations, agencies have been known to use some of the fees to self-fund programs that have not necessarily been approved by Congress. This bill is an important step towards increasing transparency, simply by bringing all funds back where they belong – under congressional oversight and authority.