(Washington, DC) -- It's time to end the legislative maneuvering and begin honest debate on a bill that would reveal recipients of federal funding: that's the message the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) had for Senators today at a Capitol Hill event demonstrating support for budget accountability from dozens of citizen groups.
"When a few lawmakers start acting like sticks in the mud over sensible budget reforms, only determined leadership from the top can pull the Senate out of the quagmire and onto solid ground," said NTU Government Affairs Manager Andrew Moylan. "Wallowing in arcane rules that allow 'secret holds' only gives taxpayers reason to wonder what fiscal secrets a handful of stubborn Senators keep trying to hide."
Moylan organized an open letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) released this morning, urging him to back a vote on 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.
The statement, signed by dozens of organizations from all points on the political spectrum, noted that, "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."
Moylan reacted with disgust to the latest news that an unnamed Democratic Senator had taken the place of Alaska Republican Ted Stevens in placing a private "hold" on the Coburn-Obama legislation. Last week NTU and its allies were successful in exposing Stevens as the hurdle to consideration of S. 2590, apparently leading to what Moylan calls "a new display of fancy footwork that's keeping simple but vital information out of the hands of the people who pay government's bills."
"Majority Leader Frist could strike a major blow for taxpayers in the final rounds of this Congressional session by scheduling a floor vote on legislation to make federal grant and contract funding data publicly available," Moylan concluded. "A powerful left-right combination will be there to back him up, and ensure that fiscal responsibility is left standing after the bell."
The nonpartisan NTU was founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and accountability from elected officials at all levels. Note: The text and signatories of the open letter to Majority Leader Frist are available at www.ntu.org.