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In view of the significance of Congress' power of the purse, it is surprising that there has been so little scholarly exploration of its contours. In this Article, Professor Stith draws upon constitutional structure, history, and practice to develop a general theory of Congress' appropriations power. She concludes that the appropriations clause of the Constitution imposes an obligation upon Congress as well as a limitation upon the executive branch: The Executive may not raise or spend funds not appropriated by explicit legislative action, and Congress has a constitutional duty to limit the amount and duration of each grant of spending authority. Professor Stith examines forms of spending authority that are constitutionally troubling, especially gift authority, through which Congress permits federal agencies to receive and spend private contributions without further legislative review. Other types of "backdoor" spending authority, including statutory entitlements and revolving funds, may also be inconsistent with Congress' duty to exercise control over the size and duration of appropriations. Finally, Professor Stith proposes that nonjudicial institutions such as the General Accounting Office play a larger role in enforcing and vindicating Congress' power of the purse.
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