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Senator Lankford’s Taxpayers Right to Know Act Receives Committee Approval

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford’s (R-OK) transparency bill, The Taxpayers Right to Know Act, was reported favorably out of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs today during a markup. The bipartisan bill would require the federal government to make public the details, costs, and performance metrics of every federal program above one million dollars. Currently, Americans are unable to see all of the programs paid for by their tax dollars. The House unanimously passed its version of Taxpayers Right to Know Act in January. The next step is for the full Senate to vote on it. 

“The Taxpayers Right to Know Act is a commonsense bill that pushes the federal government to be more transparent and provides the tools the American people need to access detailed information about federal programs that spend more than one million dollars in taxpayers’ dollars,” said Lankford. “With today’s committee vote, this important transparency bill comes one step closer to law. I applaud the Committee’s support of this bill, and I look forward to a vote on the Senate floor in the days ahead.”

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.

This legislation has been a major priority for Lankford since his first year in Congress in 2011. During the 112th Congress, Lankford introduced the bill in December 2011 as HR 3609, while former Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) carried the Senate companion bill (S. 1957) the same year. During the 113th Congress, Lankford introduced the bill in April 2013 as HR 1423 and it passed the House in February 2014, however, the Senate never voted on it. As a Senator, Lankford introduced S. 282 in January 2015 and the House passed a version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg, in January 2016. Despite support from the Obama administration, it never received a vote in the Senate, due to an objection from a single Democrat senator. Lankford remains hopeful that the bill will pass the Senate early this year and will be signed into law.

Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), John McCain (R-AZ), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Margaret Hassan (D-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Steve Daines (R-MT) are original cosponsors of the bill.