U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement today regarding a decision by a key House appropriator to remove a provision that would have prevented the public release of key budget justification documents from the White House when it releases its budget next February.
"Taxpayers, and elected representatives who don't serve on the House or Senate Appropriations committees, have a right to access information about how the federal government plans to spend their money. I'm pleased to announce that Rep. John Olver, chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee for the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development departments, and I came to an agreement this evening regarding a provision that would have barred taxpayers from timely access to vital spending information. Chairman Olver assured me that he would not allow the offending language to become law and I take him at his word. As a result of our agreement, that provision will not be enacted," Dr. Coburn said.
Specifically, the offending provision tucked within the conference report for the 2008 transportation and housing spending bill would have restricted public access to agency budget justifications that are regularly provided to congressional appropriations committees. These documents provide detailed information about the nation's top infrastructure priorities. Last year, Dr. Coburn worked with the Office of Management and Budget to make those documents available to the public at the same time they were made available to appropriators.
"When a bridge in Minnesota collapsed in August killing 13 people and injuring 100 more, the public rightfully had questions about how the federal government spent tens of billions of dollars intended for roads and bridges. Releasing these budget justifications will make the appropriations process more transparent and help the American people hold their elected officials accountable," Dr. Coburn said.