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Chairman Brady Opening Statement at Hearing on Defying the Constitution: The Administration’s Unlawful Funding of the Cost Sharing Reduction Program

July 07, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) today delivered the following opening statement at the Oversight Subcommittee hearing entitled “Defying the Constitution: The Administration’s Unlawful Funding of the Cost Sharing Reduction Program.”

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Today we are releasing substantive findings from our 18-month investigation into the Administration’s unlawful funding of Obamacare’s ‘cost sharing reduction’ program – or ‘CSR’ program. This involved unconstitutional funneling of tax funds to health insurers to hide deep structural flaws in the President’s health care law.

“This investigation has taken 18 months because the Administration obstructed our investigation at every turn and refused to give Americans the facts.

“We are here today to fulfill our constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight, and reinforce that Congress – not the White House – holds the power of the purse.

“We are not here to litigate whether the Administration acted unlawfully in funding Obamacare’s CSR program. That was settled in May when a federal judge ruled that the Administration had no authority to fund this program.

“As our Constitution makes clear in Article I, Section IX, Clause VII:

“‘No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.’

“This means the Executive Branch may not spend one taxpayer dollar without an explicit appropriation by Congress.

“While current law authorizes the cost sharing reduction program, Congress has never provided an appropriation for it.  

“Never. Not one dime.  

“The Administration knew this and didn’t care. They broke the law and spent the money anyway to prop up their failing health care law.

“This is stealing from the American people – plain and simple. To date, the Administration has unlawfully spent $7 billion of taxpayer funding on the CSR program.

“Let me repeat that.

“The Administration unlawfully spent 7 billion taxpayer dollars for this program.

“These aren’t small sums – that’s the size of the annual budget of the Centers for Disease Control. And the Administration illegally funneled all of it toward protecting the profit margins of insurance companies on the Obamacare exchanges.

“In February of 2015, our Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee initiated a joint investigation into how all this transpired. The Administration responded with unprecedented resistance at every turn.

“Numerous times we called for agencies to turn over documents or come to speak with us in person. Numerous times we were denied – or ignored altogether.

“At the beginning of the year, I finally said enough is enough. I issued subpoenas to compel the testimony of agency officials and legally require the Administration to turn over requested documents.

“This was one of my first acts as Chairman, and it was the first time in years our Committee has been forced to subpoena the Administration for information needed to fulfill our oversight responsibilities.

“The actions we’ve been forced to take merely to obtain basic information underscore the Administration’s unprecedented level of obstruction.

“In fact, all of the agencies represented here today still have not complied with our subpoenas.

“But, thanks to outstanding work by Oversight Chairman Roskam, Chairman Upton at Energy and Commerce, and our oversight teams, we’ve uncovered critical information about the Administration’s unlawful actions.

“This morning, along with the Energy and Commerce Committee, we released a 157-page staff report on what we have uncovered thus far. The report – which is on our Committee’s website – details how the Administration decided to fund the CSR program illegally, and it provides an in-depth look at their unprecedented obstruction of this investigation.

“Our investigation into this matter continues, but today represents a major step toward providing Americans with the transparency and accountability they deserve from their government.”