March 16, 2017

Preventing radical groups from taking tax dollars

By Cong. Smith’s office

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Congressman Jason Smith introduced the Stop Taxpayer Funded Settlements Act to prevent radical liberal groups from taking tax dollars and imposing regulations.

The bill would remove the incentive for outside groups to sue the federal government by barring the federal government from paying the plaintiff’s attorney fees in any environmental law case arising under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, or the Endangered Species Act.

"Congress needs to put a stop to the ‘sue and settle’ practice," said Congressman Smith. "This massive loophole in our system has made it possible for bureaucrats to go around Congress and impose regulations, which is completely unacceptable. What’s worse is that they are using Missourians tax dollars to do it!"

Called "sue and settle," this practice occurs when a federal agency accepts a lawsuit from an outside advocacy organization and then, rather than defend itself, the agency settles the lawsuit out of court in a closed-door agreement. These settlements often result in harmful regulations that impact farming families and usually involves the U.S. taxpayer covering attorney fees for the radical organization. Between 2009 and 2012, "sue and settle" lawsuits resulted in more than 100 new regulations and tens of millions of tax dollars spent on compliance costs.

"Washington doesn’t understand the burden of bureaucracy," said Congressman Smith. "Right now, Missourians hard earned money is being used to fund radical environmentalist groups and other left wing organizations, all because of the ‘sue and settle’ loophole."

"I am proud to work with President Trump and his administration to reel in out of control federal spending," said Congressman Smith. "This bill is a huge step to relieving the bureaucratic burden imposed by the federal government and protecting the hard-working people of Missouri."

The Stop Taxpayer Funded Settlements Act is identical to an amendment <> Congressman Smith authored and passed to the Department of Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017.

That amendment passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan basis by a vote of 231-196. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate failed to act on this legislation by the end of the 114th Congress.

Like Congressman Smith’s amendment, the Stop Taxpayer Funded Settlements Act will restrict federal agencies from using American taxpayer dollars to pay for attorney fees under any legal settlement regarding a case under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.