- The hearing will examine how advocacy groups and federal agencies use consent decrees – court-ordered settlement agreements that are legally binding – to implement institutional reform across state and local governments.
- It will also look at the impact on state budgets and potential long-term solutions to the problem.
- In the “sue and settle” process, outside groups will sue a federal agency, state, or local government for an alleged violation of federal law or constitutional right.
- The parties will often choose to settle by entering into a consent decree agreement. These decrees are supervised by a federal judge and enforceable by contempt.
- Consent decrees often last for decades and have become an effective tool to circumvent policymaking by elected representatives to push political agendas across governmental institutions.
- In May 2017, the Committee held Part I of the hearing series where they examined how these lawsuits between federal agencies and environmental advocacy groups create and prioritize agency obligations, impact businesses and landowners, as well as potential long-term solutions.