House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) today announced that the House will accept Member requests for Community Project Funding in appropriations bills for the upcoming fiscal year.
“Members want Congress to help their communities, particularly now as the pandemic exposed so many inequalities and needs,” Chair DeLauro said. “Community Project Funding will allow Members to put their deep, first-hand understanding of the needs of their communities to work to help the people we represent.”
Chair DeLauro also announced that the Appropriations Committee will enforce a set of important reforms that build on existing House Rules and prioritize accountability, transparency, and strong community support.
“Community Project Funding is a critical reform that will make Congress more responsive to the people,” Chair DeLauro said. “Our bipartisan reforms will produce a small number of projects with strong community support, a transparent process where no member’s family can benefit and where projects are audited to ensure money was spent as planned.”
In addition, Chair DeLauro noted that Community Project Funding will help Congress regain control of federal spending from the Executive Branch.
“Community Project Funding restores balance on important decisions about how and where to spend taxpayer dollars, allowing Members of Congress to bring their knowledge and experience to the decision-making,” Chair DeLauro said.
In the coming weeks, the House Appropriations Committee will provide additional information regarding which accounts and programs will be eligible for Community Project Funding requests and the criteria necessary for consideration in those areas. In addition, the Committee will provide support to members and their staffs so they can submit strong requests that meet urgent needs in their communities.
The important reforms are Community Project Funding are described below and available as a PDF here.
COMMUNITY PROJECT FUNDING: Reforms for Transparency and Accountability
In addition to adhering to the House Rules (House Rules XXI and XXIII), the House Appropriations Committee is enforcing a series of important reforms to guarantee that Community Project Funding is dedicated to genuine need and not subject to abuse. These include:
Public Transparency and Accountability
- All Requests Online: Members are required to post every Community Project Funding request online simultaneously with their submission to the Committee. The website must be searchable. The House Appropriations Committee will establish an online “one-stop” link to all House members’ project requests.
- Early Public Disclosure: To facilitate public scrutiny of Community Project Funding, the Committee will release a list of projects funded the same day as the Subcommittee markup, or 24 hours before full committee consideration if there was no Subcommittee markup.
- No Financial Interest: Members must certify to the Committee that they, their spouse, and their immediate family have no financial interest in the projects they request. This is an expansion beyond the underlying requirements in House Rules in order to cover immediate families of Members.
- Ban on For-Profit Recipients: There is a ban on directing Community Project Funding to for-profit grantees. Members may request funding for State or local governmental grantees and for eligible non-profits.
- Cap on Overall Funding: The Committees will limit Community Project Funding to no more than 1 percent of discretionary spending, a recommendation of the bipartisan House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.
- Member Requests Capped: The Committee will accept a maximum of 10 community project requests from each member, though only a handful may actually be funded.
- Mandatory Audit: The Committees will require the Government Accountability Office to audit a sample of enacted community project funding and report its findings to Congress.
- Demonstrations of Community Engagement: Members must provide evidence of community support that were compelling factors in their decision to select the requested projects. This policy was recommended by the bipartisan House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.
These reforms build on the requirements for accountability and transparency that are part of Rule XXI, clause 9 and Rule XXIII, clauses 16 and 17 of the Rules of the House. Those existing rules require the following:
- No Member Financial Interest: The rules forbid any member from pursuing Community Project Funding to further his or her financial interest, or that of his or her spouse. Each member requesting Community Project Funding must certify in writing that there is no such interest and make that certification available to the public. As noted above, the new Committee reforms will expand this requirement beyond existing House rules.
- Request in Writing: Any member requesting Community Project Funding must do so in writing, including the Member’s name, the name and location of the intended recipient, and the purpose of the spending item.
- Committee Consideration: When reporting legislation containing Community Project Funding, the Committee is required to identify each item (including the name of each Member requesting the item) in the corresponding committee report or joint explanatory statement, and make it publicly available online in a searchable format.
- Disclosure Before Floor Consideration: The rules prohibit a vote on a bill or a vote on adoption of a conference report, unless the chair of the committee, certifies that a complete list of Community Project Funding has been publicly available for at least 48 hours.
- Point of Order Against New Projects in Conference Reports: A point of order may be raised against a provision of the conference report if it includes Community Project Funding that was not included in either the House or Senate bills.