WASHINGTON, D.C. – Continuing his work to reform government and reduce waste, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), chairman of the Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management (FSO) Subcommittee for the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), held a hearing yesterday entitled, “Rise of the Zombies: The Unauthorized and Unaccountable Government You Pay For.”

“We are here the day before Halloween to talk about zombies. These are not the kind of zombies we see on The Walking Dead, or what we might see on our doorstep tomorrow evening. In many ways, these zombies are far scarier. These are zombie government programs that have sometimes not been reauthorized for decades,” Dr. Paul said in his opening statement on Wednesday.

The Inter-American Foundation (IAF), for an example of the problem, is a past topic of Dr. Paul’s Waste Reports that has used American taxpayer dollars on projects including teaching circus arts in Argentina, helping deported illegal immigrants start a business (and without being able to rule out that the money would not go to criminal deportees), and jumpstarting the Haitian film industry. Created in the 1960s, the Inter-American Foundation’s most recent reauthorization came more than 30 years ago.

In FY 2019, the federal government spent over $300 billion on nearly 1,000 different programs that have not been reauthorized.

Appropriators also regularly override authorizations by providing funds to programs inconsistent with the underlying authorization.

The FSO Subcommittee examined how “zombie” programs have been set free to feast on taxpayer dollars — with Congress ignoring its responsibility to conduct proper oversight — as well as what can be done to protect taxpayer resources.

U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-5), who has sponsored the USA Act in the House of Representatives, testified on the first panel, saying, “Congress isn’t using its power to exercise the power of the purse to hold these programs accountable on a regular basis, and it needs to change.”  

Kevin R. Kosar, Vice President of Policy for the R Street Institute, Jonathan Bydlak, President of the Institute for Spending Reform, and James A. Thurber, Distinguished Professor of Government at American University, testified on the second panel.

One proposed solution discussed was Dr. Paul’s own Legislative Performance Review Act, which he has previously introduced in multiple sessions of Congress to force Congress to regularly review federal programs for reauthorization to either improve them or otherwise consolidate or eliminate duplicative and wasteful efforts.

You can watch the FSO Subcommittee’s “Rise of the Zombies” hearing HERE.