President Trump and his administration have eroded traditional congressional oversight power by failing to comply with requests for records or information. However, Congress still has a critical tool at its disposal that can be used in the fight for accountability: the power of the purse.
Many of the frustrations that President Trump stirred by refusing to accept oversight could be mitigated by including transparency measures in appropriations bills. Congress could use the appropriations process to ensure that the public is aware of who visits the White House and has the president’s ear and that taxpayers are repaid when federal funds are misused for partisan political purposes. Congress could also use the appropriations process to ensure that private prison companies that profit from immigrant detention through government contracts are subject to transparency laws. CREW sent written testimony to congressional committees suggesting specific accountability measures that should be included in the 2021 budget for several government agencies.
The power to decide which agencies are allocated funds and on what conditions must not be underestimated.