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Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 5, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. MEADOWS. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3830, the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act.

The Federal Government is a complex and diverse organization. As Members of Congress, we are responsible for ensuring the Federal Government is efficient and effective. However, we lack the tools to understand how the taxpayer dollars are spent. Oftentimes, we lack a detailed list of the programs that are there.

This bipartisan bill will increase transparency and make it easier to see how the Federal Government uses its tax dollars.

May I edit that last statement just a bit? It is not the government's tax dollars. It is the hardworking American people's tax dollars. So this is a critically important additional tool.

In fiscal year 2019, the Federal Government spent nearly $4.4 trillion. Taxpayers should know where their hard-earned money is going. To follow the money, we need to know what the government is doing, so a comprehensive inventory of Federal programs will help us do that.

In 2010, Congress required the executive branch to develop a comprehensive Federal program inventory. The program inventory Congress envisioned would have given the public insight into the government's organizational structure and provided a comparable list of all Federal programs.

Comparability is key. We need to see how these programs match up. To give you one example, there were 678 duplicative programs in the Federal Government that dealt just with sustainable energy. You can argue the merits of priority or the lack thereof, but, certainly, over 600 programs to deal with one particular issue across the government is something that cannot be efficient.

However, the Government Accountability Office found that the program inventory built for the previous administration in 2013 failed to meet the intent of the law or needs of Congress. Implementing guidance allowed far too much flexibility for agencies to define programs. Each agency used its own definition, which prevented programs to be compared to one another. So the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act updates the law to require a more consistent definition of Federal programs across all agencies.

Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman from North Carolina has no further speakers, I am prepared to close.

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Mr. MEADOWS. Mr. Speaker, I am sure we have one other speaker who is running in the halls right now, but I may let him speak upon a different bill.

Let me just mention Mr. Walberg's leadership on this, a real shout- out to him and his leadership on trying to make sure congressional intent was indeed addressed. I thank him for his leadership.

Mr. Speaker, I urge support for this bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.

Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. 3830, as amended.

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Mr. MEADOWS. Will the gentlewoman yield?

Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Yes, I yield to the gentleman.

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Mr. MEADOWS. I appreciate the gentlewoman's flexibility, but if you would let me reclaim my time and yield to the gentleman, who made it in by the hair on his chinny chin chin.

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Mr. MEADOWS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman's courtesy. I urge support for this bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.

Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York.

Mr. Speaker, I urge passage of H.R. 3830, as amended, and yield back the balance of my time.

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