The House Judiciary Committee's passage this week of a bill to stop an Obama-era "slush fund" policy is nothing less than Congress taking back its constitutional powers lost over the last eight years, a South Carolina congressman who co-sponsored the legislation said during a recent interview.
"The Executive Branch should never be allowed to circumvent Congress to reward groups simply because they share an agenda with the current administration," Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said during a Palmetto Business Daily email interview.
The change is a long time coming, Gowdy said.
"As we said in 2016 when there was a Democrat in the White House, passage of the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act signals the Executive Branch is not allowed to play appropriator and decide which groups should receive money recovered from settlements from major financial institutions," he said.
Gowdy has said that message is likewise an important signal to President Donald Trump.
The House Judiciary Committee voted to pass H.R. 732, which sponsors say would end a long-standing strategy to funnel money from enforcement actions into donations to mostly liberal organizations.
The bill was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). Supporters of the legislation, such as the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, praised the committee's passage of the bill, saying it "would protect the power of the purse that the Constitution gives Congress by barring government agencies from using settlement slush funds to funnel money to third-party groups."
The full House passed a version of the bill in 2016.
"Passage of this bill signals the [Barack] Obama administration is not allowed to play appropriator and decide which groups should receive money recovered from settlements from major financial institutions," Gowdy told the Palmetto Business Daily in September after last year's bill passed the full House. "This should also be true if there is a Republican president."
The bottom line for H.R. 5063 and other legislation like it is that Congress is taking back what it lost under the Obama administration, Rep. Gowdy said.
"There is a reason the Constitution specifically grants Congress the power to appropriate," he said.