Our view: Congressional reports
by Daily Mountain Eagle
Jul 15, 2012 | 466 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On occasion, a bill comes before federal lawmakers that is fatally sensible.

A bill to pay for the medical expenses of 9-11 responders who got sick from ground zero’s toxic dust, for example, shouldn’t require a political brawl to pass. But that’s the case sometimes.

We hope it’s not with the Congressional Research Service Electronic Accessibility Resolution of 2012, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ).

The bill’s title is a mouthful, but its purpose is simple. It will make available online the reports of the Congressional Research Service, a branch of the Library of Congress that provides policy and legal analysis to Congressional committees and U.S. lawmakers. When our nation’s leaders want the facts, they go to the CRS.

It’s doubtful, of course, that Americans citizens will fry Library of Congress servers rushing to read these reports. But, then again, that’s never been the point of public records laws. News agencies, however, would immediately begin poring over these reports — at least the better news agencies would. And that would mean a mountain of new, objective source material available to the fourth estate.

The bill also allows any confidential information to be redacted by either the CRS director, the Clerk of the House of Representatives or the director of the federal agency that provided the info to the CRS. So, there is practically no chance of the information providing aid and comfort to America’s enemies.

Legislation similar to the Electronic Accessibility Act has been introduced and has failed several times before. According to govtrack.us, this most recent attempt has a 52 percent chance of passing — mainly because it has co-sponsors from both parties.

A bill of this caliber should have a better chance at passage than a coin toss. There was a time when legislation like the CRS Electronic Accessibility Resolution was fast-tracked into becoming a law. Lately, however, it seems like even the most sensible measures get stalled in Congressional gridlock.

The Eagle’s editorial board urges our elected representatives: senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions as well as U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt to take the advice of Thomas Jefferson: “I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness.”

-Daily Mountain Eagle