This was a vote on an amendment by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) that would have required the Inspector General (which carries out investigations and audits of federal government expenditures) to audit 10% of Justice Department grants, and would have prohibited the department from providing a grant to a nonprofit charity that has money in offshore bank accounts. This amendment was offered to legislation that would provide annual funding in fiscal year 2012 for Agriculture, Transportation, and Commerce department programs.
Grassley urged support for his amendment: “There are special interests in Washington making the rounds opposing this amendment. These groups have argued this amendment will unduly burden the Justice Department, take away grant money for worthy causes or erroneously ban grantees from future funds. These special interests are trying to protect their income streams of federal grants and don't want somebody looking over their shoulder to make sure they are spending taxpayer dollars wisely….My amendment would prohibit the Attorney General from providing any grant to a nonprofit charity that holds money in offshore bank accounts for the purpose of evading Federal taxes. If it is nonprofit, one would think they would be using their money for nonprofit purposes. This provision was the result of an investigation I conducted into the Boys and Girls Club of America, the national umbrella organization for thousands of local clubs. In response to my inquiry, the Boys and Girls Club of America admitted that, despite closing hundreds of clubs nationwide, it held nearly $222 million in investment, of which $54 million was in offshore investments and another $54 million in partnerships.”
Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) opposed Grassley’s amendment: “It [this amendment] would have catastrophic consequences to the Justice Department and on the important work the Justice Department does in supporting local law enforcement, crime victims, and justice across the country. I have worked with my good friend from Iowa, Senator Grassley, on many issues. We have been able to, in a bipartisan way, develop accountability measures to ensure that particular grants administered by the Department of Justice operate efficiently and effectively. That is particularly important at a time of budget austerity. We have done it in specific contexts when those measures make a lot of sense….Measures that make sense in one program cannot willy-nilly be applied to others without careful consideration of the consequences to the programs and, to the intended beneficiaries in local law enforcement, and crime victims. A one-size-fits-all measure actually might harm rather than help important functions at the Department of Justice. For example, this amendment would prevent grants to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. I know some have criticized some aspects of the Boys and Girls Clubs, and I would be happy to work with any Senator to work out these issues. But the Boys and Girls Clubs of America do great work.”
The Senate rejected Grassley’s amendment by a vote of 46-54. Voting “yea” were 45 Republicans and 1 Democrat. 52 Democrats and 2 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the Senate rejected an amendment that would have required the Inspector General (which carries out investigations and audits of federal government expenditures) to audit 10% of Justice Department grants, and would have prohibited the department from providing a grant to a nonprofit charity that has money in offshore bank accounts.