Power of the purse

The power of the purse is the ability of one group to manipulate and control the actions of another group by withholding funding, or putting stipulations on the use of funds. The power of the purse can be used positively (e.g. awarding extra funding to programs that reach certain benchmarks) or negatively (e.g. removing funding for a department or program, effectively eliminating it). The power of the purse is most often utilized by forces within a government that do not have direct executive power, but have control over budgets and taxation.


In colonial Canada, the fight for "responsible government" in the 1840s centered on question of whether elected parliaments or appointed governors would have control over the purse strings, mirroring earlier fights between Parliament and the Crown in Britain.

After confederation, the phrase "power of the purse" took on a particular meaning. It now primarily refers to the federal government's superior tax-raising abilities compared to the provinces, and the consequent ability of the federal government to compel provincial governments to adopt certain policies in exchange for transfer payments. Most famously, the Canada Health Act sets rules that provinces adhere to receive health transfers (the largest such transfers). Opponents of this arrangement refer to this situation as the "fiscal imbalance", while others argue for the federal government's role in setting minimum standards for social programs in Canada.

United Kingdom

The power of the purse's earliest examples in a modern sense occurred in the English Parliament, which gained the exclusive power to authorise taxes and thus could control the nation's cash flow. Through this power, Parliament slowly subverted the executive strength of the crown; King Charles II was limited in his powers to engage in various war efforts by a refusal by Parliament to authorise further taxes and by his inability to secure loans from foreign nations, making him much less powerful.

In recent years as a result of devolution, funding for devolved issues to the Scottish Parliament as well as the Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies has been determined through the Barnett Formula. This formula determines the overall budget of the devolved parliaments for devolved issues proportionally relative to spending on those issues in England. As a result, while responsibility for funding of devolved matters rests with the devolved bodies themselves, they in effect must enact policies of a broadly similar cost to those decided by the UK parliament for England and maintain that broad proportionality in order to ensure the long term financial viability of such policies.

United States

In the federal government of the United States, the power of the purse is vested in the Congress as laid down in the Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 9, Clause 7 (the Appropriations Clause) and Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 (the Taxing and Spending Clause).

The power of the purse plays a critical role in the relationship of the United States Congress and the President of the United States, and has been the main historic tool by which Congress has limited executive power. One of the most prominent examples is the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which eliminated all military funding for the government of South Vietnam and thereby ended the Vietnam War. Other recent examples include limitations on military funding placed on Ronald Reagan by Congress, which led to the withdrawal of United States Marines from Lebanon.

The power of the purse in military affairs was famously subverted during the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s.[1] Congress denied further aid to the Contras in Nicaragua. Unwilling to accept the will of Congress, members of the Reagan administration solicited private donations, set up elaborate corporate schemes and brokered illegal arms deals with Iran in order to generate unofficial funds that could not be regulated by Congress.

More recently, budget limitations and using the power of the purse formed a controversial part of discussion regarding Congressional opposition to the Iraq War. On March 23, 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a supplemental war budget that imposed a timeline on the presence of American combat troops in Iraq, but the legislation was not passed.

The power of the purse has also been used to compel the U.S. states to pass laws, in cases where Congress does not have the desire or constitutional power to make it a federal matter. The most well-known example of this is regarding the drinking age, where Congress passed a law to withhold 10% of federal funds for highways in any state that did not raise the age to 21. The law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the South Dakota v. Dole case. Congress was not allowed to change the drinking age directly because the 21st Amendment (which ended Prohibition in the U.S.) gave control of alcohol to the states. In 2009, Congress considered similar legislation regarding texting while driving.

This power was curtailed somewhat in a case regarding the Affordable Care Act, in which the Supreme Court ruled in June 2012 that the law's withholding of all existing Medicaid funding for states that failed or refused to expand their Medicaid programs to cover the uninsured poor was "unduly coercive", despite the fact that the federal government would pay the entirety of the states' expansion for the first years, and 90% thereafter. It was left unclear what percentage would be considered acceptable.

Other uses

In the US House or Senate, the chairperson of a legislative committee may refuse to give funding to a senator or other delegate or representative, or deny his or her appropriations bill or amendment a vote, because he or she refused to support a bill which the chairperson wanted (a tit-for-tat retaliation). While typically applied to "pork barrel" spending for special interests, it may also block funding for genuine needs of a constituency or the general public.

The administration or student government at a college or university may revoke some or even all funding for a student newspaper or student radio station, because it has printed or aired an editorial or a news article or segment critical of it. This is also an example of censorship.

See also


  1. ^ Barrett Seaman;Alessandra Stanley (Jul 9, 1984). "Cutting Off Nicaragua's Contras". TIME. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
2007 United States federal budget

The budget of the United States government for fiscal year 2007 was produced through a budget process involving both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. While the Congress has the constitutional "power of the purse," the President and his appointees play a major role in budget deliberations. Since 1976, the federal fiscal year has started on October 1 of each year.

The government was initially funded through a series of three temporary continuing resolutions. Final funding for the Department of Defense was enacted on September 29, 2006 as part of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2007, while the Department of Homeland Security was funded through the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2007, enacted on October 4, 2006. The remaining departments and agencies were funded as part of a full-year continuing resolution, the Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2007, on February 15, 2007.

Alphabet agencies

The alphabet agencies (also New Deal agencies) were the U.S. federal government agencies created as part of the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The earliest agencies were created to combat the Great Depression in the United States and were established during Roosevelt's first 100 days in office in 1933. William Safire notes that the phrase "gave color to the charge of excessive bureaucracy." Democrat Al Smith, who turned against Roosevelt, said his government was “submerged in a bowl of alphabet soup."In total, at least 100 offices were created during Roosevelt's terms of office as part of the New Deal, and "even the Comptroller-General of the United States, who audits the government's accounts, declared he had never heard of some of them." While previously all monetary appropriations had been separately passed by Act of Congress, as part of their power of the purse; the National Industrial Recovery Act allowed Roosevelt to allocate $3.3 billion without Congress (as much as had been previously spent by government in ten years time), through executive orders and other means. These powers were used to create many of the alphabet agencies. Other laws were passed allowing the new bureaus to pass their own directives within a wide sphere of authority. Even though the National Industrial Recovery Act was found to be Unconstitutional, many of the agencies created under it remained.

Some alphabet agencies were established by Congress, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority. Others were established through Roosevelt executive orders, such as the Works Progress Administration and the Office of Censorship, or were part of larger programs such as the many that belonged to the Works Progress Administration. The agencies were sometimes referred to as alphabet soup. Some of the agencies still exist today, while others have merged with other departments and agencies or were abolished, or found unconstitutional.

Brazos Mall

Brazos Mall is shopping mall located in Lake Jackson, Texas. The mall is anchored by Dillard's, JC Penney and AMC Cinemas. It is the only major enclosed shopping mall in Brazoria County, Texas. The mall opened in 1976 after nearly two years of development by The MGHerring Group. The loan for the mall was originated and is serviced by Bradford Allen Capital.Sears closed at the mall in 2017. After it closed, the mall owners announced that TJ Maxx and HomeGoods would occupy part of the space.

Congressional Budget Office

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a federal agency within the legislative branch of the United States government that provides budget and economic information to Congress.

Inspired by California's Legislative Analyst's Office that manages the state budget in a strictly nonpartisan fashion, the CBO was created as a nonpartisan agency by the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.

Whereas politicians on both sides of the aisle have criticized the CBO when its estimates have been politically inconvenient, economists and other academics overwhelmingly reject that the CBO is partisan or that it fails to produce credible forecasts. There is a consensus among economists that "the CBO has historically issued credible forecasts of the effects of both Democratic and Republican legislative proposals."

Government of Texas

The government of Texas operates under the Constitution of Texas and consists of a unitary democratic state government operating under a presidential system that uses the Dillon Rule, as well as governments at the county and municipal levels.

Austin is the capital of Texas. The State Capitol resembles the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., but is faced in Texas pink granite and is topped by a statue of the "Goddess of Liberty" holding aloft a five-point Texas star. The capitol is also notable for purposely being built seven feet taller than the U.S. national capitol.

History of Albany, New York (1942–83)

The history of Albany, New York from 1942 to 1983 begins with the beginning of the tenure of Erastus Corning 2nd as mayor and ends with Corning's death in 1983.

Erastus Corning 2nd, arguably Albany's most notable mayor (and great-grandson of the former mayor of the same name), was elected in 1941. Although he was the longest-serving mayor of any city in United States history (1942 until his death in 1983), one historian describes Corning's tenure as "long on years, short on accomplishments," citing Corning's preference for maintaining the status quo as a factor that held back potential progress during his tenure. While Corning brought stability to the office of mayor, it is said that even those that idolize him cannot come up with a sizable list of "major concrete Corning achievements." Corning is given credit for saving, albeit somewhat unintentionally, much of Albany's historic architecture.

During the 1950s and 1960s, a time when federal aid for urban renewal was plentiful, Albany did not see much progress in either commerce or infrastructure. It lost more than 20 percent of its population during the Corning years, and most of the downtown businesses moved to the suburbs. While cities across the country experienced similar issues, the problems were magnified in Albany: interference from the Democratic political machine hindered progress considerably. Governor Nelson Rockefeller (1959–1973) (R), who had a preference for grandiose, monumental architecture and large, government-sponsored building projects, was the driving force behind the construction of the Empire State Plaza, SUNY Albany's uptown campus, and much of the W. Averell Harriman State Office Building Campus. Albany County Republican Chairman Joseph C. Frangella once quipped, "Governor Rockefeller was the best mayor Albany ever had." Corning, though opposed to the project, was responsible for negotiating the payment plan for the Empire State Plaza. Rockefeller did not want to be limited by the Legislature's power of the purse, so Corning devised a plan to have the county pay for the construction and have the state sign a lease-ownership agreement. The state would pay off the bonds until 2004. It was Rockefeller's only viable option, and he agreed. Due to the clout Corning gained from the situation, he was able to get the State Museum, a convention center, and a restaurant, back in the plans—ideas that Rockefeller had originally vetoed. The county gained $35 million in fees and the city received $13 million for lost tax revenue.Another major project of the 1960s and 1970s was Interstate 787 and the South Mall Arterial. Construction began in the early 1960s. One of the project's main consequences was separating the city from the Hudson River. Corning is sometimes called shortsighted with respect to use of the waterfront, as he could have used his influence to change the location of I-787, which now cuts the city off from "its whole raison d'être". Much of the original plan never came to fruition, however: Rockefeller had wanted the South Mall Arterial to pass through the Empire State Plaza. The project would have required an underground trumpet interchange below Washington Park, connecting to the (eventually cancelled) Mid-Crosstown Arterial. To this day, evidence of the original plan is still visible. In 1967 the hamlet of Karlsfeld became the last annexation to be added to the city limits, having come from Bethlehem.

John H. Dunning Prize

The John H. Dunning Prize is a biennial book prize awarded by the American Historical Association for the best book in history related to the United States. The prize was established in 1929, and is regarded as one of the most prestigious national honors in American historical writing. Currently, only the author's first or second book is eligible. Laureates include Oscar Handlin, John Higham, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and Gordon Wood. The Dunning Prize has been shared five times, most recently in 1993. No award was made in 1937.

Landtag of Prussia

The Landtag of Prussia (German: Preußischer Landtag) was the representative assembly of the Kingdom of Prussia implemented in 1849, a bicameral legislature consisting of the upper House of Lords (Herrenhaus) and the lower House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus). After World War I and the German Revolution of 1918–19 the Landtag diet continued as the parliament of the Free State of Prussia between 1921 and 1933.

Member of parliament, Lok Sabha

A member of parliament in Lok Sabha (abbreviated: MP) is the representative of the Indian people in the Lok Sabha; the lower house of the Parliament of India. Members of parliament of Lok Sabha are chosen by direct elections on the basis of the adult suffrage. Parliament of India is bicameral with two houses; Rajya Sabha (upper house i.e. Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (lower house i.e. House of the People). The maximum permitted strength of members of parliament in the Lok Sabha is 552. This includes maximum 530 members to represent the constituencies and states, up to 20 members to represent the union territories (both chosen by direct elections) and not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian community to be nominated by the President of India. The party—or coalition of parties—having a majority in the Lok Sabha chooses the Prime Minister of India.

Member of parliament, Rajya Sabha

A member of parliament in the Rajya Sabha (abbreviated: MP) is the representative of the Indian states to the upper house of the Parliament of India (Rajya Sabha). Rajya Sabha MPs are elected by the electoral college of the elected members of the State Assembly with a system of proportional representation by a single transferable vote. Parliament of India is bicameral with two houses; Rajya Sabha (Upper house i.e. Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (Lower house i.e. House of the People). Total number of members of Rajya Sabha are lesser than member of parliament in the Lok Sabha and have more restricted power than the lower house (Lok Sabha). Unlike membership to the Lok Sabha, membership to the Rajya Sabha is permanent for a term of six years cannot be dissolved at any time.

Money bill

In the Westminster system (and, colloquially, in the United States), a money bill or supply bill is a bill that solely concerns taxation or government spending (also known as appropriation of money), as opposed to changes in public law.

Origination Clause

The Origination Clause, sometimes called the Revenue Clause, is Article I, Section 7, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution. This clause says that all bills for raising revenue must start in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as in the case of other bills.

The Origination Clause stemmed from a British parliamentary practice that all money bills must have their first reading (and any other initial readings) in the House of Commons before being sent to the House of Lords. This practice was intended to ensure that the power of the purse is possessed by the legislative body most responsive to the people, although the British practice was modified in America by allowing the Senate to amend these bills.

This clause was part of the Great Compromise between small and large states. The large states were unhappy with the lopsided power of small states in the Senate, and so the Origination Clause theoretically offsets the unrepresentative nature of the Senate, compensating the large states for allowing equal voting rights to Senators from small states.

Powers of the United States Congress

Powers of the United States Congress are implemented by the United States Constitution, defined by rulings of the Supreme Court, and by its own efforts and by other factors such as history and custom. It is the chief legislative body of the United States. Some powers are explicitly defined by the Constitution and are called enumerated powers; others have been assumed to exist and are called implied powers.

Priority Development Assistance Fund scam

The Priority Development Assistance Fund scam, also called the PDAF scam or the pork barrel scam, is a political scandal involving the alleged misuse by several members of the Congress of the Philippines of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF, popularly called "pork barrel"), a lump-sum discretionary fund granted to each member of Congress for spending on priority development projects of the Philippine government, mostly on the national level.

The scam was first exposed in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on July 12, 2013, with the six-part exposé of the Inquirer on the scam pointing to businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles as the scam's mastermind after Benhur K. Luy, her second cousin and former personal assistant, was rescued by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation on March 22, 2013, four months after he was detained by Napoles at her unit at the Pacific Plaza Towers in Fort Bonifacio. Initially centering on Napoles' involvement in the 2004 Fertilizer Fund scam, the government investigation on Luy's testimony has since expanded to cover Napoles' involvement in a wider scam involving the misuse of PDAF funds from 2003 to 2013.

It is estimated that the Philippine government was defrauded of some ₱10 billion in the course of the scam, having been diverted to Napoles, participating members of Congress and other government officials. Aside from the PDAF and the fertilizer fund maintained by the Department of Agriculture, around ₱900 million in royalties earned from the Malampaya gas field were also lost to the scam. The scam has provoked public outrage, with calls being made on the Internet for popular protests to demand the abolition of the PDAF, and the order for Napoles' arrest sparking serious discussion online.

Robert Moses

Robert Moses (December 18, 1888 – July 29, 1981) was an American public official who worked mainly in the New York metropolitan area. Known as the "master builder" of mid-20th century New York City, Long Island, Rockland County, and Westchester County, he is sometimes compared to Baron Haussmann of Second Empire Paris, and was one of the most polarizing figures in the history of urban development in the United States. His decisions favoring highways over public transit helped create the modern suburbs of Long Island and influenced a generation of engineers, architects, and urban planners who spread his philosophies across the nation despite his not having trained in those professions. Moses would call himself a "coordinator" and was referred to in the media as a "master builder".Robert Moses at one point simultaneously held twelve titles (including NYC Parks Commissioner and Chairman of the Long Island State Park Commission), but was never elected to any public office (he ran only once, for governor of New York as a Republican in 1934 and lost to Herbert H. Lehman). Nevertheless, he created and led numerous public authorities that gave him autonomy from the general public and elected officials. Through these authorities, he controlled millions of dollars in income from his projects, such as tolls, and he could issue bonds to borrow vast sums for new ventures with little or no input from legislative bodies. This removed him from the power of the purse as it normally functioned in the United States, and from the process of public comment on major public works. As a result of Moses' work, New York has the United States' greatest proportion of public benefit corporations, which are the prime mode of infrastructure building and maintenance in New York and account for most of the state's debt.

Moses' projects were considered by many to be necessary for the region's development after the Great Depression. During the height of his powers, New York City built campuses to host two World's Fairs: one in 1939 and the other in 1964. Moses also helped persuade the United Nations to locate its headquarters in Manhattan, instead of in Philadelphia, by helping the state secure the money and land needed for the project.

Moses' reputation was lastingly damaged by Robert Caro's Pulitzer-winning biography The Power Broker (1974), which highlighted Moses's lust for power and racist tendencies.

Superintendent of Finance of the United States

Superintendent of Finance of the United States was an executive office during the Confederation Period have the power similar to a Finance minister. The only person to hold the office was Robert Morris, who served from 1781 to 1784, with the assistance of Gouverneur Morris.

Taxing and Spending Clause

The Taxing and Spending Clause (which contains provisions known as the General Welfare Clause) and the Uniformity Clause, Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution, grants the federal government of the United States its power of taxation. While authorizing Congress to levy taxes, this clause permits the levying of taxes for two purposes only: to pay the debts of the United States, and to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States. Taken together, these purposes have traditionally been held to imply and to constitute the federal government's taxing and spending power.

Texas Legislature

The Legislature of the state of Texas is the state legislature of Texas. The legislature is a bicameral body composed of a 31-member Senate and a 150-member House of Representatives. The state legislature meets at the Capitol in Austin. It is a powerful arm of the Texas government not only because of its power of the purse to control and direct the activities of state government and the strong constitutional connections between it and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, but also due to Texas's plural executive.

The Legislature is the constitutional successor of the Congress of the Republic of Texas since Texas's 1845 entrance into the Union. The Legislature held its first regular session from February 16 to May 13, 1846.

Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1970

The Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1970 (Pub.L. 91–453) added to the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 by authorizing an additional $12 billion of the same type of matching funds.

The laws, while the first major federal investments in urban transit, have been criticized both for going too far (is transit a federal or local responsibility?) and not going far enough (the 50:50 match was much less than the 80:20 match provided for new highway construction). It is also thought that these capital funds distorted the priorities of transit agencies to building new capital projects (rails) rather than more cost effective projects that required less capital (but perhaps more operating) outlay (buses). Thus since the 1970s the United States has seen a large number of new rail starts while bus service continues to deteriorate.Earlier legislative attempts at establishing a federal transit funding program were opposed by labor unions because they did not protect unionized workers, and thus failed to gain sufficient support in Congress. The unions feared that public entities would take over failing privately held transportation companies and cease to recognize the union (the National Labor Relations Act does not apply to public employers). The version that finally did pass included provisions that require public entities receiving federal transit money to enter into protective agreements (often referred to as "Section 13(c) agreements") that would be approved by the Department of Labor. The Secretary of Labor must certify that the transit authority has made a "fair and equitable" labor protective arrangement before the authority can receive assistance.

Although the Federal Government is prohibited from dictating labor standards of public employees directly (see, e.g., National League of Cities v. Usery), it can use the "power of the purse" and refuse to grant funds to states who don't enter into these protective arrangements.

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