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) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE's investigation.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsLawmakers request documents on DC councilman ethics investigation House Republicans dismissive of Paul Ryan's take on Trump The 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran 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) John RyanThe Hill's Campaign Report: Stage set for second Democratic showdown Biden, Harris set for second Democratic debate showdown 2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally 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The measure, he said, would not reinstate the GAO’s semiannual Independent Council review, which was repealed in 2009, because of the way it was drafted.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 ‘Not enforcing’ a repeal is not the same as reinstating the provision that was repealed,” Ryan said on the House floor.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.