Examining Sue and Settle Agreements: Part II

Hearing Date: July 25, 2017 10:00 am 2154 Rayburn HOB


  • 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.


Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
The Honorable John Engler Former Governor State of Michigan Document
Mr. Carl E. Geffken City Administrator Fort Smith, Arkansas Document
David Sanders, Ph.D. Executive Vice-President of Systems Improvement Casey Family Programs Document
Mr. Robert Weissman President Public Citizen Document

Related Documents

Name Document
Chairman Palmer Opening Statement Document