Authority of State Legislatures to Accept Funds Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Source: Kenneth R. Thomas, Congressional Research Service, R40467, March 25, 2009

This report analyzes the language contained in §1607 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), which provides that federal funds can be made available to a state by the federal government either after certification by a governor that such money will be requested and spent or after the adoption of a concurrent resolution by a state legislature. Although the language of § 1607 is arguably ambiguous, it does not appear likely that it would have the effect of significantly reallocating power between a state legislature and a state executive branch. Thus, once either a governor’s certification or the legislature’s acceptance has been made, § 1607 would have little or no apparent effect on the power of a governor, state or local official to choose whether or not to seek and administer these funds. Any interpretation of this language which did provide authority to a state legislature, by concurrent resolution, to direct the acceptance and spending of federal monies by state or local officials, would be likely to raise Tenth Amendment issues. Consequently, such an interpretation would be disfavored.

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