Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., on Friday wrote a letter to state attorneys general calling on them to prepare a legal response to President Joe Biden’s January decision to suspend funding for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Smith claims in the letter, which was obtained by the Daily Caller, that Biden violated the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 that establishes that Congress has sole authority over how the budget is used. He also contests the argument made by the Government Accountability Office that Biden’s change to the budget, which was signed by his predecessor, was a ''policy choice'' and therefore did not constitute a violation, a defense that Smith says is at odds with the group’s past decisions.
''As previous legal opinions from the GAO on similar matters have noted, the withholding of congressionally appropriated federal funds for a policy reason may result in a violation of the Impoundment Control Act of 1974,'' the letter reads.
''As GAO’s opinion states, it is clear that Congress appropriated, and President Trump signed into law, funds specifically for the purpose of constructing a border barrier on multiple occasions,'' Smith added.
According to the congressman, ''Allowing the Executive Branch to overreach and abuse the separation of powers by taking actions to circumvent congressional intent not only carries negative short-term effects, but the potential for long-term abuses as well.''
Smith previously wrote a letter to Undersecretary of Defense Michael McCord on Tuesday claiming that the funding suspension ''effectively undermined efforts to protect our southern border,'' and called on the administration to release information about any costs related to the halted construction.
"It is important that the American people are aware of any costs DOD is incurring or will incur due to the resulting litigation and contract disputes that will come from the Administration’s misguided actions," the letter said, according to Fox News.
"President Biden's decision to ignore the will of Congress by halting border wall construction is part of a broader failure by his administration to respond to the devastating circumstances at our southern border that are enriching violent cartels and undermining the safety and security of the America people," Smith added in a statement.
"The American people are picking up the tab for President Biden’s failed policies, and we intend to find out exactly how much this disastrous decision is costing hard working families."
A spokesperson for the Pentagon said that the Department of Defense "will not comment publicly on matters that are in active litigation or settlement discussions," but will respond ''appropriately'' to inquiries from Congress.
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