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impoundment


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The refusal of the executive to spend funds which have been appropriated by the legislature. In the United States legislative control over the appropriations process allows members of Congress to play a substantial role in the shaping of public policy. Some occasional use of impoundment by the executive has traditionally been accepted as legitimate. Thus the Director of the Office of Management and Budget is authorized by law to make savings where changes in requirements allow. In addition, impoundments have on occasion been justified by reference to the chief executive's constitutional position as commander‐in‐chief. President Nixon, however, made much greater use of impoundment than before, appearing to use the device as a means of overturning policies that he found unacceptable. Members of Congress saw this as a serious assault on their constitutional prerogatives and responded by passing the 1974 Congressional Budget Reform and Impoundment Control Act. Under this legislation Presidents seeking to postpone or cancel the expenditure of appropriated funds must follow certain procedures. Postponement requires the chief executive to lay a specific deferral proposal before Congress which may be rejected by a resolution of either the House or the Senate. Cancellation of appropriations, on the other hand, requires the President to submit a ‘rescission’ proposal which is subject to approval by both houses. If Congress chooses not to act on such a proposal within forty‐five days the executive is obliged to release the funds.

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Subjects: Politics.


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