Washington, D.C. — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee Chairman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) released the following statement following today’s Committee passage of the Judgment Fund Transparency Act of 2015 (H.R. 1669) by a voice vote.
“When hardworking Americans pay their taxes, they expect their money to be used by the government in an honest and open manner in order to fund government agencies and programs.
“Information currently available about payments made from the Judgment Fund lacks sufficient details for the public and Congress to effectively search. This problem was recently highlighted by the lack of information surrounding the Administration’s recent settlement with Iran. In addition to its power of the purse, it is Congress’s prerogative to ensure that the public is informed of government expenditures. This bill does just that.
“Greater transparency to the Judgment Fund will allow the American people to understand how the government is using their funds, and determine whether or not they are being used wisely.”
Background: The Judgment Fund was originally set up to provide a mechanism for the federal government to pay damages to parties, in a timely manner, who have been harmed by the federal government. The purpose of the Judgment Fund is thus a good one, but the administration of it must be more transparent. The use of the Judgment Fund has come under recent scrutiny when monies from the fund were used in a settlement with Iran, which lacked proper transparency and clear reporting to the American public.
H.R. 1669, the Judgment Fund Transparency Act of 2015, requires the Department of the Treasury to disclose details after payments are made from the Judgment Fund, which is a permanent and indefinite appropriation to pay final judgments and settlements against the United States. Unless the disclosure is prohibited by law or a court order, Treasury must make available to the public on a website information regarding the claim, including, among other things, the plaintiff’s name and counsel for the plaintiff or claimant. If the payment is made to a foreign state, Treasury must provide additional information, including the method of payment, currency used, and the financial institution of the foreign state that received the funds.
Click here to learn more about today’s markup.