ARCHIVED: Broad Coalition Support for S. Res. 21

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Congressional Accountability Project
1611 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite #3A
Washington, DC 20009
Phone (202) 296-2787 * Fax (202) 833-2406
cap@essential.org * www.congressproject.org

February 6, 2001

Senator John McCain
241 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators McCain and Leahy:

We heartily endorse your Congressional Openness Resolution, which would require the U.S. Senate to put key congressional documents on the Internet, including Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports and Issue Briefs, CRS Authorization and Appropriations products, lobbyist disclosure reports and Senate gift disclosure reports. Your resolution is a cheap and simple way to improve our democracy.

Citizens need access to these congressional documents to discharge their civic duties. CRS reports are some of the best research conducted by the federal government. Your resolution would put about 2700-2800 of these useful reports on the Internet. Placing lobbyist disclosure reports on the Internet would help citizens to track patterns of influence in Congress, and to discover who is paying whom how much to lobby on what issues.

Taxpayers will be cheered that you have included a Sense of the Senate resolution that Senate and Joint Committees should "provide access via the Internet to publicly-available committee information, documents and proceedings, including bills, reports and transcripts of committee meetings that are open to the public." We taxpayers pay dearly to produce these documents; we ought to be able to read them, for free, on the Internet.

In 1822, James Madison explained why citizens must have government information: "A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

The Congressional Openness Resolution honors the spirit of Madison's words. Thank you for your efforts to place congressional documents available on the Internet.

Sincerely,

Alliance for Democracy
American Association of Law Libraries
American Conservative Union
American Federation of Government Employees
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Better Government Association
Center for Democracy and Technology
Center for Media Education
Center for Responsive Politics
Common Cause
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Congressional Accountability Project
Consumer Federation of America
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Federation of American Scientists
Friends of the Earth
Government Accountability Project
National Newspaper Association
National Security Archive
National Taxpayers Union
OMB Watch
Progressive Asset Management Inc.
Project on Government Oversight
Public Citizen
RealNetworks, Inc.
Reform Party of the USA
Regional Reporters Association
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Society of Professional Journalists
Taxpayers for Common Sense
U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG)