The freshman Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) acknowledging the heaps of attention he gets, joked when he keynoted the Gridiron Club dinner last March, `` When I actually do something, we'll let you know.''
Obama is poised to pass his first bill, which may actually become a law, co-sponsored with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK.), mandating listing of federal contracts and grants be available on a searchable internet database.
On Friday, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the House will vote on the measure next week, meaning the bill will vault to the head of the legislative line. The Boehner announcement came after Obama an Coburn reached a deal with House Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.).
The Obama-Coburn version of the measure (final House-Senate language is not available) calls for the website to be in existence by Jan. 1, 2007 and to include the amount of federal funds received in the last ten years and to specifically identify the entity getting the money. At present, Congress appoves funding for projects that are impossible for the public--even members of Congress--to identify.
"I'm pleased that the House leadership agreed with us that all federal spending should be accessible through this website. It doesn't matter if it's a grant, an earmark, or a contract, this legislation will allow the public to know how their tax dollars are being spent," said Obama in a statement.
It is not known yet if the White House is prepared to back the proposal.
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) had put a secret hold on this bill by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla) calling for federal contracts to be in searchable internet databases.
But the secret was cracked and Stevens folded.
Still, many steps remain until this becomes a law.
There is no House counterpart legislation-though Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said there are negotiations ongoing with Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.).
Releases from the office of Sen. Barack Obama..........
House and Senate Reach Agreement on Coburn-Obama Bill to Create
Internet Database of Federal Spending
--Obama, Blunt, Coburn, Davis, Carper agree on Grants and Contracts Database; Boehner announces floor action--
WASHINGTON---House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.), U.S. Senators Tom Coburn (Okla.), Barack Obama (Ill.), and Tom Carper (Del.), and Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) today announced that they have reached agreement on legislation to increase accountability and transparency by establishing a public database to track federal grants and contracts.
House Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) announced he plans to schedule the agreed-upon language for House floor consideration next week.
"This process has focused on enhancing the accountability and transparency in the federal budget process," Blunt, Boehner, and Davis said. "The federal government awards approximately $300 billion in grants to roughly 30,000 different organizations. Each year, roughly one million contracts exceed the $25,000 reporting threshold. We need to be sure that money is spent wisely. Our legislation creates a transparent system for reviewing these expenditures so that Congress, the press, and the American public have the information they need to conduct proper oversight of the use of our tax dollars. The package we've agreed to move requires the Administration to establish searchable databases for both grants and contracts."
"I'm pleased that the House leadership agreed with us that all federal spending should be accessible through this website. It doesn't matter if it's a grant, an earmark, or a contract, this legislation will allow the public to know how their tax dollars are being spent," said Sen. Obama
"This bill is a small but significant step toward changing the culture in Washington. Only by fostering a culture of openness, transparency and accountability will Congress come together to address the mounting fiscal challenges that threaten our future prosperity. The group that deserves credit for passing this bill, however, is not Congress, but the army of bloggers and concerned citizens who told Congress that transparency is a just demand for all citizens, not a special privilege for political insiders. Their remarkable effort demonstrates that our system of government does work when the people take the reins of government and demand change," Dr. Coburn said.
"I'm pleased that we've been able to work out an agreement to let this important legislation move to a vote in the House," said Sen. Carper. "If we're going to hold the federal government accountable for its performance, then we need to empower the public with basic information about who's receiving federal dollars and what's being done with them. This bill will shed some much-needed light on the activities of most federal agencies, allowing the public to decide for themselves whether their tax dollars are well spent."
On June 21, the House unanimously passed HR 5060, the Blunt-Davis grants database bill. The Senate unanimously passed S 2590, the Coburn-Obama grants and contracts database bill, yesterday.
# # #
Senate Passes Coburn-Obama Bill to Create Internet Database of Federal Spending
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) today hailed the Senate’s passage of the “Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act,��? a bill that will create a Google-like search engine and database to track approximately $1 trillion in federal grants, contracts, earmarks and loans.
“By helping to lift the veil of secrecy in Washington, this database will help make us better legislators, reporters better journalists, and voters more active citizens,��? Obama said. “It’s both unusual and encouraging to see interest groups and bloggers on the left and the right come together to achieve results. This powerful grassroots alliance shows that at the end of the day, Americans want to see Congress work together to get something done and not continue to engage in the partisan gridlock that so often brings Capitol Hill to a grinding halt.��?
“Every American has the right to know how their government spends their money, and then to hold elected officials accountable for those decisions. I applaud my colleagues for unanimously supporting a bill that will aid the American people in that effort,��? Dr. Coburn said. “This bill is a small but significant step toward changing the culture in Washington. Only by fostering a culture of openness, transparency and accountability will Congress come together to address the mounting fiscal challenges that threaten our future prosperity.��?
“The group that deserves credit for passing this bill, however, is not Congress, but the army of bloggers and concerned citizens who told Congress that transparency is a just demand for all citizens, not a special privilege for political insiders. Their remarkable effort demonstrates that our system of government does work when the people take the reins of government and demand change,��? Dr. Coburn said.
More than 100 organizations ranging from Americans for Prosperity and Taxpayers for Common Sense to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Greenpeace have endorsed S. 2590.
Dozens of editorials boards across the country including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times and The Oklahoman have also endorsed S. 2590.
Forty-three Senators co-sponsored S. 2590 including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Tom Carper (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), John McCain (R-AZ), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), John Kerry (D-MA), John Cornyn (R-TX) and others.