Senator Lankford Requests Unanimous Consent of Taxpayer Transparency Bill, Senator Schumer Objects
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WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), sponsors of the Taxpayers Right To Know Act (S. 317), today went to the Senate floor to request that their bill be passed by unanimous consent. Their request was blocked by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the only Senator opposed to the bill.
Specifically, the bill would create an online database that reports financial data and performance metrics for every federal program above one million dollars. The bill would require every federal agency to provide taxpayers an annual report card for all of its programs and would require agencies to identify the number of employees and beneficiaries served by each federal program. Lankford has introduced the bill in every congressional session that he’s been in Congress; most recently, he introduced the bill in February 2017. The bill passed the House of Representatives unanimously in early 2017, and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs passed it in March 2017.
(0:09-2:11) What’s surprising to me is that Senator Schumer’s objection to this is that the taxpayers would find out information that he doesn’t want them to find out. That’s the surprising part. His answer, which I’m grateful to be able to get. Because over the last six months our staff from Senator McCaskill and I have worked with his staff every month. We have made 27 changes, and six revisions over the last six months. And in the last month, we got radio silence. Nothing from Senator Schumer’s staff. So we finally brought it to the floor and said, what is the problem, because we can’t seem to figure out what the problem is. We now learned today that the problem is that he doesn’t want the program inventory to be public. Because if the American people and the Congress and the Office of Management and budget see the programs, they might actually do things with efficiency. Now, that seems surprising to me, but if you read the transcript is that is what he just said. The fear is that they will find outer what the federal government does in programs. Surely that’s not his objection. Surely no one in this body would say, I hope the American people and the Office of Management and Budget never find out what the federal government does. Here’s what this bill does. The reason that we could not have a good listing, as Senator Schumer mentioned, that there’s no way to do a list is because there’s no definition of a program. The federal government has struggled with that definition, so this bill fixes that. The reason that inventory doesn’t exist gets solved with that. Literally, Senator Schumer’s objection to why we shouldn’t do this is nonsensical.