- Republican members of Congress are demanding President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) reject a rule that made it easy for left-wing private groups to receive billions from the federal government.
- Former President Donald Trump’s DOJ issued a memo in 2017 revoking payments from government to third parties except with limited exceptions.
- Attorney General Merrick Garland revoked that memo in May and the DOJ is considering comments prior to publishing a final rule that would approve the third-party payments.
Republican members of Congress are urging the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to block the reimplementation of a rule that paved the way for left-wing private interest groups to receive billions from the federal government, according to a letter.
The Trump administration issued a memo in 2017 revoking payments from the government to third parties except with limited exceptions. The DOJ is considering comments prior to publishing a final rule that would approve the third-party payments to the government after Attorney General Merrick Garland revoked the Trump memo in May.
“We are adamantly opposed to the Biden Administration’s decision to reinstate the unethical and controversial practice of forcing defendants to pay settlement monies directly to unrelated third parties, circumventing the Treasury and Congress,” said the Republicans, led by Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, in a letter to Garland Sunday.
Some Obama-era DOJ litigation settlements included payment agreements wherein groups that are not defendants received windfalls of cash and bypassed congressional approval. The DOJ would make defendants agree to pay third parties taxpayer dollars, resulting in the defendant’s owing less money to the DOJ, the Republicans said in their letter.
There are serious “conflicts of interest” in connection to third parties being paid by private groups at the direction of the government, according to the lawmakers.
“Money awarded to the U.S. government through litigation doesn’t belong in the hands of unelected bureaucrats, and I’m proud to support this effort to bring transparency, restore public trust, and check executive power concerning this illicit government scheme,” Florida Rep. Donalds, who signed the letter to Garland, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
For instance, after the Obama administration was unable to secure congressional electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure funding, the DOJ required Volkswagen to spend $2 billion to construct EV charging stations after the company was caught cheating on reporting of its diesel emissions in order to not violate the Clean Air Act — which regulates pollutants deemed to endanger the wellbeing of Americans.
Out of the $2 billion, $800 million went to California for green energy infrastructure and EV access for residents.
Following the 2008 financial crisis, the House Judiciary Committee in 2014 demanded the DOJ release documents on its settlements with major banks that were fined $109.96 billion and contributed to the economic downturn.
After the banks were fined, billions were directed to the Treasury Department and other groups, The Wall Street Journal reported. Then, hundreds of millions made their way to states, like New York, which used money on things like water washing stations for horses and homeless services, the outlet reported.
Since 2005, the DOJ and the Environmental Protection Agency reached more than a dozen Clean Air Act-related settlements with private groups — steering more than $1.55 billion “to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle infrastructure projects without congressional authorization,” according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The letter to Garland comes after Republicans put forth a bill in 2021 called The Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act seeking to ban the DOJ from steering cash to third parties through legal settlements. The bill was backed by Americans for Tax Reform, a right-wing advocacy group.
The DOJ did not respond to a request for comment.
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