To paraphrase an old line from a Humphrey Bogart movie, “Constitution? We don’t need no stinkin’ Constitution!” — especially when every federal agency in our U.S. government has an extracurricular set of unconstitutional rules by which it operated.
During a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting on March 8, Senator Cory Gardner asked if Congress approved the U.S. State Department’s diversion of $500 million to the UN’s Green Climate Fund. Deputy Secretary Heather Higgenbottom bluntly addressed the GOP senators’ accusation.
“Did Congress authorize the Green Climate Fund? No,” she replied.
Higginbottom also insisted they were not required to let Congress know about the transfer from the Economic Support Fund (ESF) saying, “We have reviewed our authorities and made a determination that we can make this payment to the Green Climate Fund. We do not believe we are in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act, and clearly our lawyers and others have looked at our authorities and our abilities to do this.”
The ESF is a part of the U.S. Foreign Assistance program and has ranged from $2.5 billion in 2001 to $4.7 billion in 2015. Yet the State Department managed to find half-a billion dollars to hand over to the UN without any accounting as to the monies use.
Garner then asked Higginbottom how the administration was able to divert and reprogram funds to meet Obama’s pledge.
“We reviewed the authorities and opportunities available to us to do that, and believe we are fully compliant with that,” she said. “I’ll be happy to follow-up with you and your staff.”
It’s clear that departmental rules are replacing the constitutional requirement that only Congress can appropriate money as stated in the U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 7, clause 1 which reads, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time ‘the rules’ superseded the U.S. Constitution and it isn’t going to be the last.