June 03, 2020

Udall Joins Legislation to Uphold Congressional Power of the Purse

Legislation reaffirms that Congress, as direct representatives of the American people, has the sole authority to allocate and distribute taxpayer funds in federal spending decisions

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, joined 18 Senate Democrats to introduce the Congressional Power of the Purse Act to reaffirm the role of Congress, directly elected by the American people, as the sole branch of government vested with the power in the Constitution to decide how taxpayer funds are spent. The senators introduced the legislation to rein in the Executive Branch’s encroachment on federal spending decisions. President Donald J. Trump has consistently disregarded the constitutional separation of powers for political purposes, including: diverting funds from military families to support an unnecessary southern border wall, withholding urgent aid to Ukraine allocated by Congress and consistently ignoring congressional oversight authority.  

The Congressional Power Of The Purse Act would restore Congress’ central role in funding decisions, increase transparency in the Executive Branch and add increased enforcement and accountability mechanisms to existing budget law.

“American government and our democratic ideals hinge on the separation of powers,” said Udall. “Congress is the only branch of the federal government that can decide where taxpayer dollars are spent because the legislative branch is directly elected by the people. The executive branch has skirted this fundamental constitutional authority for too long—and President Trump’s consistent disregard and disrespect for the will of the American people must end. Our country is a nation of laws and our president must adhere to them. I will continue to fight to uphold the constitutional balance of power—from introducing legislation to end the president’s abuse of emergency powers to divert money from New Mexico military families to his border wall, to working to uphold congressional war powers. This legislation is more important than ever, as Congress ensures that the emergency funding passed to help the American people in a time of historic need actually goes to the workers and families facing serious financial upheaval from the ongoing public health crisis.”

Udall authored a bipartisan resolution to terminate the president’s unlawful national emergency declaration, which the Trump administration is using to raid $125 million from military bases in New Mexico to pay for the border wall. The resolution passed the Senate with a bipartisan majority of 54-41.

Udall is also the author of bipartisan legislation to prohibit the United States from expending funds which could lead to war with Iran without express approval from Congress, as required by the Constitution. Last June, Udall authored a bipartisan amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prevent unconstitutional war with Iran. The amendment earned bipartisan support during the Senate’s debate on the NDAA. His bipartisan legislation (S. 1039) to block funding for hostilities with Iran without specific Congressional authorization, originally introduced in 2018, was re-introduced in April 2019 and has 27 cosponsors. The House has passed a Iran war funding prohibition similar to the Udall bill two times—both as an amendment to the FY2020 NDAA on July 12, 2019 and again on January 30, 2020.

The full text of the legislation is available here, a one-page summary of the legislation is available here and a section-by-section summary is available here.