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House approves watchdog financial oversight of Mueller

House approves watchdog financial oversight of Mueller
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The House on Friday approved a measure to require financial oversight of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE's investigation.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsTrump attacks Karl Rove: 'A pompous fool with bad advice' How scientists saved Trump's FDA from politics Liberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses MORE (R-N.C.), aims to reinstate a Government Accountability Office (GAO) semiannual audit of special counsels. 

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"A special counsel's work is important, but they should not be able to spend taxpayer dollars without accountability. Americans need to know where their money is going," Meadows said.

The amendment passed 207-201, largely along party lines. 

It will be part of a spending package that includes the first three spending bills of the 2019 fiscal year. It was expected to pass just minutes later.

Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanABC names new deputy political director, weekend White House correspondent Threats to lawmakers up 93.5 percent in last two months Tim Ryan: Prosecutors reviewing video of Capitol tours given by lawmakers before riot MORE (D-Ohio), the ranking member of the legislative branch appropriations subcommittee, said the amendment was nothing more than window dressing.

The measure, he said, would not reinstate the GAO’s semiannual Independent Council review, which was repealed in 2009, because of the way it was drafted.

“The way this amendment is drafted, it doesn’t do anything. It says no funds in the bill can be used to ‘enforce’ a repeal of a provision of law that happened a decade ago. ‘Not enforcing’ a repeal is not the same as reinstating the provision that was repealed,” Ryan said on the House floor.

The measure is unlikely to find support in the Senate, which has yet to take up the spending bills.

Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, is among the Republicans who have called for a second special counsel to investigate alleged surveillance abuses at the Justice Department. 

Mueller's budget is not part of the annual Justice Department funding package approved by Congress, falling instead under a special Treasury Department account.

The Justice Department does, however, release statements of expenditure on the special counsel. 

In its May report, the Justice Department said the special counsel had spend $16.7 million in the first 10 and a half months of the investigation into Russia's election meddling and any possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

—Updated at 2:13 p.m.