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House Republicans on Wednesday advanced legislation aimed at bringing more transparency to the operation of the Judgment Fund, which some GOP lawmakers are warning could be used as a slush fund for the Obama administration.

The House Judiciary Committee passed the Judgment Fund Transparency Act in a voice vote, in which only ranking member John Conyers, D-Mich., indicted his opposition.

The Judgment Fund is used to pay out settlements in successful lawsuits against the federal government. But Republicans fear it has already been abused by the Obama administration, and could be again before Obama leaves office.

The fund was thought to be used to facilitate a $1.7 billion payment to Iran as part of a settlement for a decades-old deal for military equipment that was never consummated.

And more recently, Republicans worry the Judgment Fund might be used to deliver money to insurance companies that are losing money under Obamacare.

The healthcare law foresees payments to insurers who lose money by signing up too many sick people, but Republicans have refused to provide the billions of dollars in additional funding these companies are seeking. The Obama administration has suggested in response that these companies might be able to sue the government in order to get those payments, which could come from the Judgment Fund.

The sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, argues that the fund currently operates in a non-transparent way. His bill would require the Treasury Department to post all payments made from the fund, except when doing so would violate a court order.

“There’s absolutely no reason for this information to be secret,” Stewart said when he introduced the bill in March. “The federal government should always be transparent about how it uses tax dollars. This bill is a simple fix that will give us more transparency and prevent the fund from being used as a slush fund for political purposes.”

Judiciary Committee members Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said in a joint statement Wednesday that the Iran deal shows that the public needs a better understanding of how the money is flowing out of the fund.

Minnesota cop charged with manslaughter in July shooting

Also from the Washington Examiner

The police officer involved in the July shooting death of a black man in a St. Paul, Minn., suburb has been charged with manslaughter.

St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced early Wednesday.

Philando Castile was pulled over in a St. Paul suburb on July 6. His girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter were in the car at the time. The immediate aftermath of the shooting by Yanez was live-streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, which soon went viral and lead to protests around the area.

11/16/16 11:56 AM

“This problem was recently highlighted by the lack of information surrounding the administration’s recent settlement with Iran,” they said. “In addition to its power of the purse, it is Congress’ prerogative to ensure that the public is informed of government expenditures. This bill does just that.”

It’s not clear, however, if the bill can become law. The Senate would have to pass it and President Obama would have to sign it into law before the current Congress ends.

If that can’t happen, Republicans would have to start over in the new Congress that convenes in early January.

Republicans getting on board Trump's victory train at last

Top Story

Now even the most reluctant Republicans, including McConnell, have eagerly boarded the Trump’s victory train.

11/16/16 12:01 AM



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