Andrew Pollack's Blog

Technology, Family, Entertainment, Politics, and Random Noise

Does the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government (the President) have the Constitutional Authority to _NOT_ spend money allocated by the Congress?

By Andrew Pollack on 01/08/2013 at 09:53 AM EST

Congress passes the budget and spending bills. That's where all the taxes get decided, and all the spending gets decided. The executive branch is supposed to manage the organizations that go and spend that money as allocated.

Suppose Congress passes a budget that includes $100 Billion for tanks for the army. The army says it doesn't need them, but the money will go to a district with a powerful congressman so it ends up in the budget. Now, the President KNOWS that in six months the budget is going to run out of funding without a raise in the debt ceiling because the Congress passed the budget saying the money could be spent but didn't raise the debt ceiling enough to cover it.

Can the President tell the Pentagon to HOLD on buying those tanks? (answer is NO, apparently, see below)

There are many things just like those tanks in the budget, so assume I'm also talking about anything else he believes is either waste or lower priority. Meanwhile he continues or even accelerates spending on the social programs he believes are critical, so that when that debt ceiling comes around the funding for his social stuff is what's already been spent but the funding for the things he considers waste has not? There are many ways to do this aside from just saying "Don't buy the tanks". For example, the Executive branch could add so much red tape to the process, or force more competitive studies, delay decisions on final vendors, or any of a thousand other tricks to delay the spending.

The Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse strings. It is the job of the Congress to pass a budget every year. Without congress allocating funds, nothing gets spent. The Debt Ceiling fiasco comes because Congress allocates more money to be spent than that which comes in, increasing the debt, but then doesn't authorize the debt itself to be increased without coming back to Congress first for another negotiation. They've increased their own power. I'm wondering if by carefully allocating which funds are actually spent and when, the President can take some of that power back.

Update (thanks to Bob for giving me the right term to search on):

Wikipedia has a great summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impoundment_of_appropriated_funds

The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 was passed in response to perceived abuse of the power under President Nixon. Title X of the act, and its interpretation under Train v. City of New York, essentially removed the power. This severely inhibited a president's ability to reject congressionally-approved spending.

The Impoundment Control Act of 1974 provides that the president may propose rescission of specific funds, but that rescission must be approved by both the House of Representatives and Senate within 45 days. In effect, this has removed the impoundment power, since Congress is not required to vote on the rescission and has ignored the vast majority of presidential requests.

Forty-three U.S. states give their governors the authority to not spend money allocated by the state legislature. The states which deny their governor the authority are Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The Mayor of Washington, D.C. also has this power.


There are  - loading -  comments....

Thanks, BobBy Andrew Pollack on 01/08/2013 at 10:08 AM EST
Bob Balaban pointed to me Nixon's attempt at "Impoundment" of funds, which
seems as close as anything else. Here's a link.

http://law.justia.com/constitution/us/article-2/37-impoundment-of-appropriated-f
unds.html
re: Does the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government (the President) have the Constitutional Authority to _NOT_ spend money allocated by the Congress?By Bruce Perry on 01/08/2013 at 12:30 PM EST
Is this perhaps why presidents want a "line-item veto" and congress doesn't
want to give presidents this power? The presidential veto is a fairly blunt
instrument at present.


Other Recent Stories...

  1. 05/05/2016Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism?Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism? I read a really insightful post a couple of days ago that suggested the use of social network funding sites like “Go Fund Me” and “Kickstarter” have come about and gained popularity in part because the existing economy in no longer serving its purpose for anyone who isn’t already wealthy. Have the traditional ways to get new ventures funded become closed to all but a few who aren’t already connected to them and so onerous as to make ...... 
  2. 04/20/2016Want to be whitelisted? Here are some sensible rules for web site advertisingAn increasing number of websites are now detecting when users have ad-blocking enabled, and refuse to show content unless you "whitelist" their site (disable your ad-blocking for them). I think that is a fair decision on their part, it's how they pay for the site. However, if you want me (and many others) to white list your site, there are some rules you should follow. If you violate these rules, I won't whitelist your site, I'll just find content elsewhere. 1. The total space taken up by advertisements ...... 
  3. 12/30/2015Fantastic new series on Syfy called “The Expanse” – for people who love traditional science fiction[] “The Expanse” is a new science fiction series being broadcast onthe Syfy channelthis winter. It’s closely based on a series of books by author James S. A. Corey beginning with “Leviathan Wakes”. There are 5 books in the “Expanse” series so far. If you’re a fan of the novels you’ll appreciate how closely the books are followed.TIP: The first five episodes are already available on Syfy.com. If you’re having trouble getting into the characters and plot, use those to get up to speed.The worlds created for ...... 
  4. 10/20/2015My suggestion is to stay away from PayAnywhere(dot)com  
  5. 08/07/2015Here is one for you VMWARE gurus - particularly if you run ESXi without fancy drive arrays 
  6. 08/06/2015The Killer of Orphans (Orphan Documents) 
  7. 06/02/2015Homeopathic Marketing: Traveler on my Android is now calling itself VERSE. Allow me to translate that for the IBM Notes community... 
  8. 03/17/2015A review of British Airways Premium Economy Service – How to destroy customer goodwill all at once 
  9. 02/26/2015There's a bug in how @TextToTime() and @ToTime() process date strings related to international standards and browser settings. 
  10. 01/21/2015Delivering two new presentations at Developer Camp (EntwicklerCamp) 2015 in Germany 
Click here for more articles.....


pen icon Comment Entry
Subject
Your Name
Homepage
*Your Email
* Your email address is required, but not displayed.
 
Your thoughts....
 
Remember Me  

Please wait while your document is saved.