Government Accountability Office investigates Biden’s decision to halt border wall construction
Bradley Stein, DCNF
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has opened an investigation into President Joe Biden’s decision to freeze congressional funds allocated for construction of the southern border wall, Politico reported.
Senate Republicans requested the GAO investigate the Biden administration for potentially violating the Impoundment Control Act (ICA), which prohibits the president from altering funding appropriated by Congress without approval, Politico reported. Republicans are referring to the $1.4 billion allocated for border wall construction in the $900 billion COVID bill passed by Congress in December.
— Shelley Moore Capito (@SenCapito) March 17, 2021
“He was in the Congress a long time. He knows it’s the Congress’ job to authorize how the money is spent and the president’s job to spend it efficiently,” said Republican Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt in a statement to Politico.
Republicans have blamed Biden’s decision to freeze funding for the border wall as well as his reversal of several other Trump-era border policies for the record surge of illegal immigrants and unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border in recent weeks.
Biden’s decision to halt funding for the southern border wall may be similar to the ICA violation former President Donald Trump received after blocking aid to the Ukraine, which Democrats used as the basis for their first impeachment of the former president, a federal spending expert told to Politico.
“The Biden administration has to be really careful about doing stuff like this, because otherwise they’re just going to be doing the exact thing the Trump administration did — just at the other end of the policy spectrum,” Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, a manager at the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, said in a statement to Politico.
Congressional Republicans were not alone in demanding greater adherence to the ICA. Democratic Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has pledged to review the GAO’s response and to “reassert and strengthen” Congress’ spending powers, a committee spokesperson told Politico.
Yarmuth’s office told Politico that the congressman intends to introduce legislation aiming to “increase transparency around executive spending.” His proposed bill would require the Office of Management and Budget to make public any spending instructions given by the executive branch to federal departments and agencies.
Former President Trump did not face any formal penalty from the GAO after it found him guilty of violating the ICA, as rulings do not prescribe punishments. Should Biden be found in violation of ICA, he would likely avoid facing any serious penalty from the government watchdog.