Today, Sunlight is announcing a package of House Rules reforms for the upcoming 112th Congress that can help create the most open and accountable Congress in history. In addition to calling for leadership in Congress to pursue these reforms, we would like to hear your feedback on our recommendations.
This is big news for a number of reasons. The House Rules have enormous power in determining how all aspects of the U.S. House of Representatives functions as a legislative body. Examining the rules also gives us a chance to assert some of our signature reform efforts: from the 2007 Open House Project recommendations to the ReadtheBill.org and Transparency in Government Act reforms—as well as a lot of new ground.
Sunlight is calling for doubling the Office of Congressional Ethics budget; for all public ethics filings to be posted affirmatively online; for all non-emergency legislation to be posted online for 72 hours; and for a single database of all earmark information. We’re also calling for a public database of “Dear Colleague” letters; shoring up ethics rules; providing greater access to legislative data; and making all committee rooms wired for video, just to name just a few. To look at our recommendations in more detail, we’ve published a one page summary, in addition to an HTML and PDF version.
We’ve identified well over 60 reform opportunities and welcome your reactions and comments at the end of this post. We’ll be writing a great deal over the coming weeks about the individual reforms listed here, both the research it represents and the vision it presents for a transparent, accountable Congress.