(Alexandria, VA) -- Just one small hurdle remains toward a fiscally-responsible finish for legislation that will give Americans a clear and concise look at where their tax dollars are going -- that's the word from the grassroots action team at the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU), which has marshaled an unusually broad coalition calling for meaningful public access to federal grant and contract funding data.
"Last night lawmakers and citizen groups demonstrated how Washington can work to change the budget process for the better," said NTU Government Affairs Manager Andrew Moylan. "Thanks to the House's action, taxpayers can almost taste a victory for accountable government; now the Senate can seal this sweet deal by enacting the bill that cleared late yesterday so it can be delivered to the White House."
Last week NTU and its allies won a resounding victory when the Senate voted unanimously to pass S. 2590, the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act sponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL). The bill would direct the Office of Management and Budget to create a searchable online database that the general public could use to track the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal grant and contract disbursements.
Prior to consideration of the proposal, Moylan organized an open letter from more than 80 citizen groups to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), urging him to back a vote on S. 2590 in the face of parliamentary maneuvers known as "holds." Two weeks of intense questioning of Senatorial staff and information-sharing on Internet blogs revealed the source of the hold and cleared the way for passage.
Moylan noted that the House transparency legislation varies in only one small respect with the original Senate bill. The House's version includes a provision that would create two separate database search fields -- one for grants and the other for contracts -- instead of a single portal. Moylan contends that this minor difference should cause no controversy, as it was agreed upon by House and Senate leaders.
"An honest debate over America's future direction can only happen if citizens have honest information about America's present state," Moylan concluded. "That's why lawmakers and citizen groups of every political philosophy are joining together to bring the federal funding process out of the darkness."
NTU was founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels. Ed. Note: The open letter and its signatories may be viewed at www.ntu.org.