Agency Enforcement of Spending Clause Statutes: A Defense of the Funding Cut-Off

89 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2014

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

This article contends that federal agencies ought more frequently to use the threat of cutting off funds to state and local grantees that are not adequately complying with the terms of a grant statute. Scholars tend to offer four arguments to explain — and often to justify — agencies’ longstanding reluctance to engage in funding cut-offs: first, that funding cut-offs will hurt the grant program’s beneficiaries and so will undermine the agency’s ultimate goals; second, that federalism concerns counsel against federal agencies’ taking funds away from state and local grantees; third, that agencies are neither designed nor motivated to pursue funding cut-offs; and fourth, that political dynamics among state governments, Congress, the White House, and the agencies themselves make funding cut-offs difficult to achieve. This article argues that these critiques are deeply flawed. Among other problems, the critiques fail to account for the variety of types of grants, grant conditions, and rationales for grantee noncompliance; reflect lack of a nuanced understanding of the ways in which distinct federalism concerns play different roles at different times in the development and implementation of grant programs; and unrealistically assume static and unified agency incentives and political relationships. After debunking these critiques, the Article offers a new conception of the potential benefit of funding cut-offs in the enforcement of federal grant programs: the threat of a funding cut-off may be appropriate when it can promote change by the noncompliant grantee and when it can signal to other grantees that the agency is serious about enforcement, thereby increasing grantees’ compliance. The article concludes by assessing the implications of this argument for administrative regime design and judicial review. This work opens up new avenues for research in administrative law on the distinct features of the federal grants regime.

Keywords: grant beneficiaries, separation of powers, federalism, funding, grants

JEL Classification: K00, K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Pasachoff, Eloise, Agency Enforcement of Spending Clause Statutes: A Defense of the Funding Cut-Off (2014). Yale Law Journal, Vol. 124, pp. 248-335, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2524477

Eloise Pasachoff (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
87
rank
283,656
Abstract Views
669
PlumX Metrics