Legislation & policy analysis

Issue One applauds the HSGAC Committee for advancement of key congressional modernization bills

Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) Committee favorably reported out a series of bills that will make Congress more transparent and accountable to their constituents. 

An amended version of H.R. 2662, the IG Independence and Empowerment Act, was unanimously reported out by the committee via voice vote. Federal IGs are the internal watchdogs that identify and prevent fraud and waste within the federal government, as well as investigating abuse of power in the government. In FY20 alone inspectors general identified approximately $53 billion in potential savings to taxpayers. 

The IG Independence and Empowerment Act would institute critical reforms to strengthen our nation’s inspectors general (IGs) system. The amended version of the bill — which includes significant portions of two other IG bills, S. 587 and S. 1794 — increases the burden on a president to notify Congress as to why an IG has been removed, places reasonable limits on who can serve as acting IG in the case of a vacancy, and grants IGs the subpoena power necessary to fully investigate and prevent abuses of power.

The committee also favorably reported out S. 2838, the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (ACMRA). This bipartisan bill — introduced in the Senate by Sens. Portman (R-OH), Klobuchar (D-MN), Peters (D-MI), and Hassan (D-NH) — would require the Government Publishing Office (GPO) to establish and maintain a public, online portal for all reports sent to Congress, with certain limitations. All agencies would also be directed to provide the GPO with covered reports in a timely manner. In doing so, the ACMRA would help Congress collect and maintain institutional knowledge, while giving the public access to the same insights. 

In April, Issue One joined with 28 other organizations in calling for the House to pass its version of the ACMRA. The bill passed the House in late July without any objections, meaning that a vote by the Senate is all that is needed to pass the ACMRA into law.

Issue One applauds Chairman Peters, Ranking Member Portman, and the members of the HSGAC Committee for their attention to these issues and support of these important initiatives. Taken together, the bills advanced today by the Committee represent a significant step forward in making the federal government more transparent, representative, and accountable to the American people.