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COBURN-OBAMA BILL WILL HELP RALLYOPPOSITION TO ADVOCACY FUNDING
I was pleased to sign the coalition letter to Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist demanding action on the Coburn-Obama bill S.2590 to promote Federal funding accountability and transparency. A copy of the letter to Majority Leader Frist follows:
September 6, 2006
Dear Majority Leader Frist:
On behalf of the millions of taxpaying citizens represented by the groups signed below, we strongly urge you to bring S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, to the Senate floor for a vote. The bill, sponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL), would direct the Office of Management and Budget to create a publicly-available website that would list every entity receiving federal financial assistance, such as grants or contracts, and the totals awarded for each fiscal year. Such a website would entail very little cost and would greatly increase transparency in the distribution of government funding. At last, those who most deserve to know about this process – the American people – would have a tool to examine and evaluate the federal government’s funding decisions and priorities.
And yet, after being "hotlined" for unanimous passage, the bill was suddenly derailed when a secret hold was placed, indicating a Senator would object to it on the floor. After weeks of investigation, ordinary citizens used phone calls and several websites to narrow the holds down to Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Robert Byrd (D-WV). Both Senators then admitted publicly to the holds. And yet, Stevens has renewed his hold and, along with an anonymous Democrat, stands in the way of this common-sense legislation.
This unprecedented flurry of "outside the Beltway" action from across the political spectrum suggests that support for this bill is strong among the general public. Advocates from all ideological points of view share the common notion that transparency of and public access to government information is vital to the health of our political system. Through letters such as this one, over 110 groups – of all ideological persuasions – have conveyed to the Senate their strong support for this measure.
Citizens should no longer be forced to navigate the confusing labyrinth of bureaucracy just to find out how their tax dollars are spent. Furthermore, internal conflicts and parliamentary maneuvers should not prevent the passage of a bill with such widespread support. Americans of all political stripes have spoken with a unified voice in favor of transparency and accountability. Now, they call upon you to bring S. 2590 to the Senate floor for a vote as soon as possible.
We thank you for your public commitments to bring this bill to the floor and want to work with you to ensure this important legislation receives a straightforward vote when the Senate reconvenes.