While the passage of a 45-day continuing resolution in Congress brought attention to many of the larger government beneficiaries of taxpayer dollars, many more obscure entities, such as commissions and boards, continue to add to the massive federal budget.
According to Just The News, many of these smaller entities get no public scrutiny and can act as a patronage network for the President, through powers granted to the office in Article II of the Constitution. Some of these entities include the Agency for Community Living, the National Agriculture Library, and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.
The Indian Arts and Crafts Board, which functions within the Department of the Interior, serves to enforce an obscure law passed in 1990 which “prohibits false advertising in the marketing of Indian arts or crafts.” In the spending bill passed at the end of 2020, the board received $3.5 million specifically to deal with counterfeit Indian arts and crafts.
In 2011, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that it was increasingly difficult for the board to even carry out its mission, since “the size of the Indian arts and crafts market and extent of misrepresentation are unknown because existing estimates are outdated, limited in scope, or anecdotal.”
There are many other such boards and commissions which contribute to the bloat of the overall federal budget. In October of 2020, the Brookings Institution released a study which determined that federal bloat has reached a 60-year high. The various layers of federal government have been consistently increasing year over year since the 1990’s, with every presidential administration adding more new boards and commissions.
Furthermore, it is difficult to even determine just how many of these entities even exist. The 2012 edition of the Sourcebook of United States Executive Agencies determined that “since what constitutes an agency under the APA [Administrative Procedure Act] is governed on a case-by-case basis through litigation, there is no authoritative list of government agencies.”
“Every list of federal agencies in government publications is different,” the report added.
The continuing resolution was passed over the weekend to narrowly and temporarily avoid a government shutdown, although negotiations for a long-term solution are still ongoing. The passage of the resolution has led to renewed tensions within the House GOP caucus, with Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) filing a motion to vacate the chair of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).