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Project on Government Oversight




Senate Sunshine Law Introduced Will Make Government Info Available on the Internet

February 15, 2001 


New legislation sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) seeks to make transcripts of committee meetings Senate gifts disclosure reports, lobbying reports, and Congressional Research Service reports available on the internet. Senate Resolution 21 is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT).

"Getting information about government operations is too difficult for concerned citizens and journalists. The McCain-Leahy resolution is a simple and inexpensive way for the Senate to fulfill its duty of protecting our democracy from political corruption," said Danielle Brian, Executive Director of POGO.

Senate Resolution 21 would post the following information on the web:

  • Transcripts of Committee meetings where key legislative and budgetary decisions are often made, and other documents and information from Committees;
  • Disclosure reports filed by lobbyists working to influence the Congress, including gifts given to Senators and staff, as well as as by whom the lobbyists are employed;
  • Congressional Research Service reports and issue briefs, as well as authorization and appropriations products.

The Congressional Research Service has a budget of $73.4 million to produce reports of interest and importance to U.S. citizens. Currently, the reports are only available to Members of Congress and their staff at no cost. The reports are available to the public, but for a fee of $49 for up to five reports through a company on the internet.

Gary Ruskin of the Congressional Accountability Project stated, "Congress has been shamefully slow to put its most important documents on the Internet. The McCain-Leahy resolution is a good step towards placing the work product of Congress on the Internet."

Senate Resolution 21 is endorsed by a bipartisan coalition of public interest groups, media organizations, and members of the communications industry. Supporters include: Alliance for Democracy, American Association of Law Libraries, American Conservative Union, American Library Association, American Federation of Government Employees, American Society of Newspaper Editors, AOL Time-Warner, Better Government Association, Center for Democracy and Technology, Center for Media Education, Center for Responsive Politics, Common Cause, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Congressional Accountability Project, Consumer Federation of America, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Federation of American Scientists, Friends of the Earth, Government Accountability Project, Intel Co., National Federation of Press Women, National Newspaper Association, National Security Archive, National Taxpayers Union, OMB Watch, Progressive Asset Management Inc., Public Citizen, RealNetworks Inc., Reform Party of the USA, Regional Reporters Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Taxpayers for Common Sense and U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG).

To help move Senate Resolution 21, we are asking organizations and individuals to call their Senators and request that they become Co-Sponsors of the bill. The Capital switch board number is 202-224-3121.

For More Info: see the Congressional Accountability Project's website at

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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