Twelve nonprofit organizations concerned with oversight and transparency in government sent a letter to all United States Senators urging them to oppose an eleventh-hour secrecy provision added to the Conference Report on the FY 2008 Transportation-HUD Appropriations bill. The provision, cited as Section 193 in the bill, would severely limit the ability of congressional authorizing and budget committees to provide proper oversight in the federal budgeting process. The House already approved the conference committee version yesterday, and the Senate is set to vote on the legislation by the end of the week.
The provision, if passed, will have multiple implications – among them, curtailing the ability of lawmakers to restrain earmarks, and their ability to abide by the Congressional Budget Act. The provision would deny congressional committees and, potentially, public access to the fiscal year budget justifications for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and numerous independent agencies until after May 31 of each year. The House and Senate transportation appropriations committees would be the only committees allowed to view the budget justifications prior to that date.
In addition to the Project On Government Oversight, other signatories include National Legal and Policy Center (Ken Boehm, 703-237-1970); Government Accountability Project (Mark Cohen, 202-408-0034); Citizens Against Government Waste (Leslie Paige, 202-467-5334); Sunlight Foundation (Gabriela Schneider, 202-742-1520 ext 236); Open the Government.org (Patrice McDermott, 202-332-6736); Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington (Naomi Seligman Steiner, 202-408-5565); Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Ed Frank, 202-349-5871; National Taxpayers Union (Pete Sepp, 703-683-5700); National Freedom of Information Coalition (Charles Davis, 573-882-5736); American Association of Law Libraries (Mary Alice Baish, 202-662-9200); and Freedom of Information Oklahoma (Joey Senat, 405-744-8277).
For addition information: Stop Secrecy In Spending Fact Sheet