McCain, Leahy to Introduce Legislation Opening CRS Information to the Public

Posted February 11, 2003 at 12:41pm

Following a report issued last week by a government watchdog group, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Tuesday they will reintroduce a bill that would make Congressional Research Services information available to the public.

Currently CRS, which compiles timely legislative information, is only available to the public through independent companies that charge almost $30 for a copy. Corporations, universities and other entities can also hire former Members to gain access.

“This is something that’s inexcusable in the Internet age,” said Leahy. “With the click of a mouse, anyone can do it.”

McCain, who calls the bill a “no-brainer,” said that since the CRS is funded by taxpayers, they are the ones who deserve the most prompt access to information.

“It’s a simple, but important, way to keep Americans informed,” McCain said. “It’s not a sexy issue — just a real good-government issue.”

A version of this bill was introduced in the 107th Congress but never made it to the floor.

The Project on Government Oversight last week urged CRS, an arm of the Library of Congress, to design a new Web site where it could make public up-to-the-minute legislative information, as well as its own studies and reports.

The POGO report found that CRS secures its information on the Internet by blocking the public’s attempts with firewalls.

Leahy said it isn’t fair that the information is only public to those who can afford to hire a lawyer or lobbyist, or can physically travel to Washington to look it up.

“The more access we have, the better we are,” he said.