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Sunday, June 18, 2006

'No' To Sunset Commission Legislation!

Tell Your Lawmaker - NO!Anti Torture      Tsounds like just another act of destruction from Bush's Playbook.   The thought of yet another group of non-elected officials making decisions for us whether we like it or not.   Join me in researching this issue and making a decision to send this letter to your Representatives.   - fc

OMB Watch   'No' To Sunset Commission Legislation!

Both houses of Congress are planning to vote on controversial legislation that would create an unelected, unaccountable commission with the broad authority to make recommendations to terminate or "realign" federal programs. These recommendations would be forced through Congress on a fast track, take-it-or-leave-it basis with limited debate and no opportunity for amendment.

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Decisions about federal programs are too important to be ripped from the hands of elected lawmakers and made behind closed doors.

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I am writing to oppose any legislation for sunset commissions.

Whether the vehicle in question is H.R. 2470, H.R. 3277, H.R. 3282, the sunset commission sections of S. 3521, or some provision still to be unveiled, I am concerned by the prospect of forcing federal programs to justify their continued existence in front of an unelected commission with the power to recommend whether they live, die, or get "realigned."

Decisions on federal programs that inspect the safety of our food and drugs, keep workers safe on the job, enforce environmental and civil rights protections, help educate our children, provide needed social services such as healthcare and food assistance, and much more are too important to be left to an unelected, unaccountable panel. Congress has the obligation and authority to conduct oversight of federal agencies. This power should not be abdicated to the executive branch.

There is no need for these sunset commission proposals. Congress already has the power to decide that programs should be eliminated or reorganized. Mechanisms already exist to evaluate these programs. Beyond Congress's oversight authority, the Government Accountability Office, the Inspector General's office, the Congressional Research Service and the Office of Management and Budget all conduct evaluations of agency effectiveness. Moreover, there are many programs for which there is simply no question of their worth. Forcing programs to conduct even more costly analysis to justify their existence would be a waste of resources - resources that should instead be spent on meeting their missions to serve the public.

I am also troubled by any provision that would force the recommendations of unelected sunset commissions through Congress on a fast-track, take-it-or-leave-it basis, with little opportunity for debate and no opportunity for amendment. Questions as crucial as the very function of government programs are too important for debate to be muzzled.

Sunset commission proposals do not address government waste. Instead, they would force programs targeted in budget cuts to face the chopping block for a second time. I cannot support this dangerous concept.

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