Yesterday, the Senate rejected, by a vote of 4-92, an amendment to the Tax Treaty with Spain offered by Senator Rand Paul that would have required requested information on tax records be individual and relevant to an ongoing investigation. This would have put in some protection of taxpayer privacy that is lacking from the current treaty. The three Senators who voted with Senator Paul are:
Ted Cruz (TX)
Mike Lee (UT)
Dan Sullivan (AK)
You can see the roll-call vote here.
Yesterday, the House passed a resolution condemning the president’s tweets attacking four members of Congress. Before that, they voted to allow Speaker Pelosi to remain on the floor despite having had her words removed from the Congressional Record after she called the president racist.
In addition to the bills mentioned yesterday, the House will also consider a resolution recommending Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross be held in contempt of Congress for failure to comply with congressional subpoenas.
The House will also consider some bills under suspension of the rules, including:
H.R. 2615—Authorizes $77,000,000 for new programs in the northern triangle, “to support the people of Central America and strengthen United States national security by addressing the root causes of migration from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.” This bill is being sold as a way to reduce migration in those countries, which might make sense if the U.S. Government was capable of improving conditions in foreign countries by throwing taxpayer money at them.
H.R. 2744—Authorizes the U.S. Agency for International Development to attach logos to materials identifying projects it is funding as associated with the agency and the U.S. Government, so recipients of the aid will know the aid is funded by the American taxpayer. The bill passed by a vote of 414-1. Morgan Griffith (VA-09) was the only no. You can see the vote here.
H.Res. 441—Condemns the 1994 attacks on the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina and expresses concern over the 25-year delay in resolving the case.
H.Res. 432—Condemns the attacks on peaceful protesters in Sudan and calls on the Sudanese Government to institute a civilian led government. This passed by a vote of 415-1, the one no was Thomas Massie (KY-04). You can see the vote here.
H.Res. 345—Condemns the restrictions of freedom of the press around the world and calls on the U.S. government to make protecting freedom of the press a priority around the world.
H.R. 2037—Requires the Director of National Intelligence to submit reports to Congress detailing evidence of the Saudi Arabian government’s involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. It also requires a report on human rights violations by the Saudi government and imposes sanctions on anyone involved in Khashoggi’s murder. Passed by a vote of 304-7. Here are the seven who voted no:
Matt Gaetz (FL-01)
Louie Gohmert (TX-01)
George Holding (NC-02)
Doug LaMalfa (CA-01)
Thomas Massie (KY-04)
Tom McClintock (CA-04)
Ted Yoho (FL-03)
You can see the vote here.
H.Res. 129—Condemns Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women and calls on the US Government to impose financial and travel restrictions on Saudi Arabians that violate human rights and make protection of human rights a key part of the U.S.-Saudi relationship.
H.R. 526—Sanctions Cambodian officials who have interfered with the development of Democracy in Cambodia or violated human rights.
H.R. 748—Repeals the so-called “Cadillac Tax” on high-costs employer health care plans.
H.R. 736—Requires the Government Publishing office to create a website to publish all congressionally-mandated reports.
Campaign for Liberty has signed a letter in support of this bill, which was sent the week the bill was originally supposed to be considered by the House in March:
Monday, March 11, 2019
Dear Members of the House of Representatives:
On behalf a bipartisan coalition of 41 organizations, we write in strong support of the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (H.R. 736), an important transparency bill scheduled for a floor vote on Tuesday. It is entirely appropriate that this legislation be considered during Sunshine Week, the annual celebration of access to public information, and we urge you to vote for the legislation .
The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (ACMRA) is a straightforward measure with deep and lasting support in both parties. First, ACMRA requires that all reports that are mandated by federal law to be submitted by agencies to Congress be made available on the Government Publishing Office’s (GPO’s) website , with exceptions for material that is classified or otherwise confidential. As all those reports already can become publicly available under the Freedom of Information Act, this provision simplifies congressional and public access to the reports. Second, it requires GPO to track all the reports that are due to Congress and whether an agency has submitted the report. Until now, there is no central tracking of whether agencies comply with the law.
It is important to describe what ACMRA does not do. It does not make any reports publicly available that would not be obtainable through FOIA. It does not apply to agency reports requested in committee reports, by letter, or email. It would not disclose classified material, information prohibited from disclosure by federal law, privileged or confidential trade secrets, personnel information, certain information gathered for law enforcement purposes, etc. In fact, it would not require disclosure of any information exempted from disclosure under FOIA. Moreover, Congress can act to prohibit the online disclosure of any of these reports, although they would continue to be obtainable through FOIA under current law.
ACMRA is not a new bill. It recently was passed by the House as part of a larger package. In parallel, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted to report a companion measure on February 13. The House Administration and Oversight and Government Reform Committees voted to favorably report the legislation in the 113th, 114th, and 115th Congresses, and the legislation was first introduced in the 111th Congress. The current bill, introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley, has 20 cosponsors, 13 Democrats and 7 Republicans, representing the political breadth of the House.
The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act is a straightforward transparency measure that will empower every member of Congress to have easy access to information about what the government is doing and similarly empower the general public to access information they otherwise would have to submit a FOIA request to obtain. We urge your support. Should you have any questions, please contact Daniel Schuman, policy director, Demand Progress, at .
American Association of Law Libraries
American Civil Liberties Union American Library Association
Association of Research Libraries Campaign for Accountability
Campaign for Liberty
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Clean Elections Texas
Coalition to Preserve, Protect & Defend
Coalition to Reduce Spending
Defending Rights & Dissent
Due Process Institute
Federation of American Scientists
Free Government Information
Government Accountability Project
National Coalition for History
National Security Archive
National Security Counselors
National Taxpayers Union
Open the Government
Project On Government Oversight
R Street Institute
Revolving Door Project
Senior Executives Association
Society of Professional Journalists
Union of Concerned Scientists