House Committee Bars Publication of Reports by Congressional Research Service
The House Appropriations Committee has once again decided that the American public can’t have its cake and eat it too.
That is, they can continue to fund the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which produces reports for the benefit of Congress, but the committee denied CRS any funding to make those reports available to taxpayers. The committee refused a CRS request to increase its funding by $5 million for 2016. Instead, it voted to give CRS $107 million, the same amount as this year.
The only way for the public to access such reports is if a non-governmental entity compiles and publishes them. The Federation of American Scientists is one such group; FAS maintains a database of reports.
And even with the cuts, the vultures are circling. The Appropriations Committee report directed “the Library of Congress to commission an independent survey of all Members and committees of the House of Representatives to ascertain their fundamental and optimal requirements for services and support from the Library of Congress and especially the Congressional Research Service.”
The problem is that some of the service’s work for congressmen is not very significant, such as answering odd requests from constituents. CRS’s talents lie in dissecting policy issues without regard to the ideological biases of those making its budget.
“Even when we did find time and space to do serious research, lawmakers ignored our work or trashed us if our findings ran contrary to their beliefs,” former CRS analyst Kevin Kosar wrote earlier this year.
To Learn More:
House Renews Ban on CRS Publication of Its Reports (by Steven Aftergood, Federation of American Scientists)
Congressional Research Service Reports (Federation of American Scientists)
Why I Quit the Congressional Research Service (by Kevin R. Kosar, Washington Monthly)
Bipartisan House Bill Would Open Congressional Research Service Reports to the Public (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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