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Success! Senate to post expenditure reports

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The Senate is going to follow the House in posting their office expenditure reports online for the public to view. Yesterday, Sen. Tom Coburn offered an amendment to the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act requiring the Secretary of the Senate to post all expenditure reports online.

Coburn's amendment has elements that are both better and worse than the House's efforts to disclose office expenditures. The better is a lot better: reports will be posted in a searchable, itemized format. (The House plans to only post PDFs.) Unfortunately, we won't get to see those reports until the 2011. Coburn's amendment delays disclosure, likely for the Secretary of the Senate to build infrastructure for disclosure, until the start of the 112th Congress, or 2011. The House will begin disclosing later this year.

Below is the language of the amendment:

SEC. __X. REPORTING REQUIREMENT. Section 105(a) of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act 1965 (Public Law 88-454; 2 U.S.C. 104a) is amended-- (1) in the last sentence of paragraph (1), by striking ``shall'' and inserting ``may''; and (2) by adding at the end the following: ``(6) Beginning with the report covering the first full semiannual period of the 112th Congress, the Secretary of the Senate-- ``(1) shall publicly post on-line on the website of the Senate each report in a searchable, itemized format as required under this section; ``(2) shall issue each report required under this section in electronic form; and ``(3) may issue each report required under this section in other forms at the discretion of the Secretary of the Senate.''.