Skip Navigation and Section Links - Go To Content Your online down home newspaper


Cornyn introduces bill to hold federal agencies, programs accountable

Creates federal sunset commission, based on Texas model, to evaluate how to save taxpayers’ dollars

From the Office of Senator John Cornyn

July 12, 2007

Government - Senator Cornyn pictureWASHINGTON—In an effort to establish greater accountability for government programs and agencies, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Budget Committee, has introduced legislation to create a federal “sunset” commission to evaluate all unauthorized, expired federal agencies and programs the government continues to fund. The United States Authorization and Sunset Commission Act of 2007, S. 1731, would require the commission to then make recommendations to Congress. The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Sens. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

“ Most federal programs are authorized by Congress only for a certain number of years, but unfortunately, many accounts are funded year after year because there are small, but vocal, interest groups backing them—and no effective Congressional oversight to determine when ideas have run their course,” Sen. Cornyn said. “This legislation is an important step toward getting our fiscal house in order and making sure Congress gets back to the hard work of oversight to determine if programs actually fulfill their stated purpose or yield some unintended or counterproductive results.”

The legislation is modeled after the sunset process that Texas instituted in 1977 to identify and eliminate waste, duplication and inefficiency in government agencies. This process has led to the elimination of dozens of agencies that have outlived their usefulness and has saved Texas taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Approximately half of the states use a similar process.

“Periodic assessments are essential to good government and this is what the Commission will provide to Congress and to taxpayers across the country. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this important legislation,” Sen. Cornyn added.

The United States Authorization and Sunset Commission Act of 2007 would:

Create an eight member bipartisan Commission, made up of four Senators and four Representatives, that will look at the effectiveness and efficiency of federal programs and agencies.

Establish 10 criteria for the Commission to use in developing its schedule and review proposal and its recommendations to Congress on whether agencies and programs should be abolished, streamlined, consolidated or reauthorized with recommendations for improvements.

Require the Commission to submit a legislative proposal to Congress at least once every 10 years that includes a review schedule of at least 25 percent of unauthorized federal agencies or programs and at least 25 percent of ineffective federal programs or where effectiveness cannot be shown by the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Performance Assessment Rating Tool (PART).

Call on the Commission to review each of the federal programs and agencies identified in the Schedule and Review proposal. The Commission will provide its findings and submit a legislative proposal necessary to implement their recommendations to Congress and the President every other year. Congress will have two years to consider and pass the Commission’s recommendations or to reauthorize the program or agency before it is abolished.

– History of Sen. Cornyn’s efforts to protect taxpayers’ dollars and ensure fiscal responsibility –

Permanent Sales Tax Deduction Bill

Sen. Cornyn is an original co-sponsor of the Permanent Sales Tax Deduction bill, S. 180. This deduction levels the playing field for Texans and annually provides $1 billion in tax relief.

Amendment to slow future income tax rate increases

While the Senate was considering the budget for fiscal year 2008, Sen. Cornyn authored an amendment that would create a point of order against raising income taxes by requiring a super-majority of the Senate, or 60 votes, to pass any legislation that increases income tax rates on the American people. He fought to include his bipartisan amendment in the 2008 budget. The Senate passed his amendment by a vote of 63-35, but Democrats stripped it out in the conference on the budget with the House of Representatives—despite unanimous passage of a measure instructing the Senate’s negotiators to include it in the final budget.

Stop Over-Spending Act of 2007

In May, Sen. Cornyn joined several of his colleagues in introducing legislation to control federal spending, reduce the deficit and curb runaway entitlement spending. The Stop Over-Spending (S.O.S.) Act of 2007 would require Congress to reduce the growth of “mandatory,” or entitlement spending, if deficit targets are not met. It would also institute automatic across-the-board reductions in discretionary spending if Congress can’t meet established spending caps. Also included in the comprehensive package is Sen. Cornyn’s 60-vote point of order against legislation that increases income taxes.

Amendment to reform entitlement spending

In March, Sen. Cornyn introduced an amendment that would reform runaway entitlement spending and save taxpayers $34 billion over the next five years by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in government programs.

Fair Tax Act

Sen. Cornyn supports the Fair Tax Act, which would replace income, capital gains, payroll, estate, gift, corporate and self-employment taxes with a national retail sales tax. The IRS would also be significantly downsized and reformed.

--Additional information--

Questions and Answers on the Authorization and Sunset Commission Act: .

Sen. Cornyn’s statement for the Senate Record on the Authorization and Sunset Commission Act:

Sen. Cornyn Column: Let Some Government Programs Ride into Sunset .

Sen. Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee’s Airland subcommittee. He served previously as Texas Attorney General, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and Bexar County District Judge.

© 2004-2006
League City Area News Online.
All rights reserved.
The opinions expressed in this or any other column are those of the author, not the League City Area News Online or its staff or any of its affiliates. Any and all responses to any of the columnists are welcome.
Web design by Webmaster
Marilyn Clark.
Send comments and Letters to the Editor to:
League City Area News Online, P. O. Box 1693, League City, Texas 77574-1693

Please include your address and phone number for verification purposes.
Send e-mail to the Webmaster if there are problems with the web site.