The USDA Spending Accountability Act was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate by Republican Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Roger Marshall of Kansas and Mike Braun of Indiana (shown above).
The legislation would limit the disbursal of funds through the USDA’s financing institution, known as the Commodity Credit Corporation, to be permitted only when authorized by Congress. Right now, the Secretary of Agriculture has broad discretionary authority in spending excess CCC funds.
Braun, a member of the Senate Ag Committee, says he’s in favor of reining in spending throughout the federal government.
“I got there four and a half years ago. We were $18 trillion in debt, we’re now $32 trillion. We borrow 30 cents on every dollar we spend now. It was 20 cents, which was terrible, four and a half years ago. In all areas of government, we need to make sure that the hard-earned taxpayer money that we’re given is spent efficiently whether it be in agriculture or any other part of government.”
Braun adds that agriculture dollars are spent more efficiently than Defense or some of the other social programs, but there’s still work to be done.
“We need to get back to doing budgeting, regular order, and making sure that we do what all other households, state governments, and local governments do– pay attention.”
Asked if it has a chance of passing, Braun says, “I’m not sure. We’ve got to get 60 senators to agree.”
Braun, Marshall, and Grassley say recent instances of discretionary spending abuse have prompted bipartisan concern, as these programs are enacted without input from Congress and allow USDA to act as authorizer and appropriator.
By removing this discretionary authority, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the USDA Spending Accountability Act would save $8 billion over ten years.