The House Appropriations Committee just announced it will hold a full committee markup this Thursday (May 31) on the Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill for FY 2013. While the Sunlight Foundation is hopeful this legislation will address a number of our transparency priorities, we will be watching in particular to see whether the longstanding issue of improving public access to legislative information will finally be addressed.
At the subcommittee markup, there was a tantalizing hint that the committee report will contain language to require bulk access to THOMAS data, the importance of which the public interest community has addressed many times before. We are hoping this bill will require the Library of Congress to implement bulk access to THOMAS within 120 days of the legislation’s passage, and require the Library to create an advisory committee on THOMAS.
While we were able to observe that the subcommittee adopted this draft legislation without amendment, the accompanying report (where language regarding bulk access was inserted) has not been released to the public. Congressional staff have told me the report will not be released to the public until the full committee markup.
Committee members will get a look at the bill and accompanying report no later than Tuesday, which is three calendar days before the hearing (if you count Thursday as a calendar day, otherwise it should be available today, Friday), in accordance with Committee rule 6(j). The public must wait get a look at the bill no later than Wednesday at 11am, which is when the committee chairman must electronically post a copy of the bill according to committee rule 4(d)(4). The committee’s rules makes no mention of when committee reports must be released to the public, although such a report will presumably be ready when the draft bill is released to the public.