Trying to decide the "dumbest" thing that the House of Representatives has done lately is a real challenge, But that mission appears to have certainly gotten a whole lot easier. Recently House Republicans decided to include a provision in spending bills which would forbid all requested government aid from being used for an organization that ceased to exist over three years ago.
Zach Carter, writing for Huffington Post, supplies the details of this legislative lunacy brought to you by the ever- impressive Texas Republicans. Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) and Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) both sponsored bills which included a provision that not one cent of these government funds would go to the activist group known as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) "or its subsidiaries or successors."
Rep. John Culberson
Rep. John Carter
The bills, which have nothing to do with ACORN were introduced on May 28/29 and will be voted on this week.
The Culberson bill makes budget appropriations of $73.3 billion for military construction and for veteran affairs "to support the military and their families and to provide for the benefits and medical care for our nation’s veterans."
Similarly, the Carter bill which makes $38.9 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Homeland Security, carries the same prohibitions against ACORN.
If you happen to be a Tea Party person and are mathematically challenged you might want to know that between those bills, (whatever their merits), the requests total over $113 billion from the budget.
Call it a budget sequestration backtracking.
In any case, as Huffington Post noted, similar provisions in both bill declare that:
None of the funds made available in this Act may be distributed to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) or its subsidiaries or successors.
Has nobody informed either of them that Congress had already banned federal funding for ACORN back in the fall of 2009?
That ban, as you might recall, came after conservative muckraker (and all-around mischievous imp) James O'Keefe released a series of carefully-edited videos claiming to show impropriety, specially involving staff allegedly offering tax avoidance advice to pimps. Under a cloud of shame, ACORN was immediately disbanded. However as, the article points out,
Independent investigations by the California attorney general, the Massachusetts attorney general and the Brooklyn, N.Y., district attorney would later clear ACORN of criminal wrongdoing, and an investigation by the Government Accountability Office would clear ACORN of charges that it mishandled federal funds.
That came a little to late. Nevertheless, still the GOP consider closing ACORN to be a proud triumph.
Although Congress' target was ACORN, as the article explains, the broad language used in the 2009 legislation could be applied to "any organization,"
that had been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws or campaign finance laws or with filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. The funding ban also extended to any employees, contractors or others affiliated with any group so charged.