H. R. 3762
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
October 8, 2009
Mr. Kratovil (for himself and Mr. Lance) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on House Administration
To provide members of the public with Internet access to certain Congressional Research Service publications, and for other purposes.
Short title; Findings
This Act may be cited
Congressional Research Service Electronic
Accessibility Act of 2009.
Congress finds the following:
The Congressional Research Service, a special reference unit within the Library of Congress, offers invaluable research and analysis to Members of Congress on all current and emerging issues of national policy.
The Congressional Research Service staff of approximately 700 employees, including lawyers, economists, reference librarians, and social, natural, and physical scientists, are governed by requirements for accuracy, objectivity, balance, and nonpartisanship.
The Congressional Research Service has a responsibility to ensure that Members of the House and Senate have available the best possible information and analysis on which to base the policy decisions the American people have elected them to make.
It is often burdensome, difficult, and time-consuming for citizens to obtain access to objective and nonpartisan policy analysis on issues affecting their interests.
It will enhance our democracy to provide citizens with access to unbiased and accurate CRS documents on legislation and other critical issues before Congress.
Allowing public access to CRS will empower citizens and enable Members of Congress to become even more effective “representatives” of the public’s concerns and goals.
Availability of certain Congressional Research Service information
Establishment and Maintenance of Database of information
The Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of Senate, working jointly and in consultation with the Director of the Congressional Research Service, shall establish and maintain a centralized, searchable, electronic database consisting of—
all of the information described in paragraph (2) that is available to Members, officers, employees, and offices of the House of Representatives or Senate through the Congressional Research Service website; and
an index of the information described in subparagraph (A).
The information described in this paragraph is as follows:
Congressional Research Service Issue Briefs.
Congressional Research Service Reports.
Congressional Research Service Authorization of Appropriations Products and Appropriations Products.
Subsection (a) does not apply to—
any information that is confidential, as determined by—
the Director, or
the head of a Federal department or agency that provided the information to the Congressional Research Service; or
any document that is the product of a confidential research request made by a Member, officer, employee, or office of the House of Representatives or Senate.
Redaction and revision
In carrying out this section, the Clerk and the Secretary, on the basis of information provided by the Director, may—
remove from the information included in the database the name and phone number of, and any other information regarding, an employee of the Congressional Research Service;
remove from the information included in the database any material for which the Director determines that including the information on the database may infringe the copyright of a work protected under title 17, United States Code; and
make any changes in the information included in the database that the Director determines necessary to ensure that the information is accurate and current.
Prior Approval Not Required
Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the Director may take such actions as may be necessary to enable the Clerk and Secretary to establish and maintain the database under this section, including providing the information described in subsection (a)(2), without obtaining the prior approval of the Committee on Rules and Administration of the Senate, the Committee on House Administration of the House of Representatives, or the Joint Committee on Printing.
Method of Public access
Access Through Websites of Members and Committees
Each official public website of a Member of the House of Representatives or Senate, a committee of the House of Representatives or Senate, or a joint committee of the Congress shall permit members of the public to use the website to obtain the information contained in the database established under section 2, in the same manner and to the same extent as Members, officers, employees, and offices of the House of Representatives and Senate may obtain such information through the Congressional Research Service website.
Subsection (a) shall be carried out—
in the case of websites of Members and committees of the House of Representatives, in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Committee on House Administration of the House of Representatives;
in the case of websites of Members and committees of the Senate, in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Committee on Rules and Administration of the Senate; and
in the case of any other website to which subsection (a) applies, in accordance with regulations promulgated jointly by the Committee on House Administration of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Rules and Administration of the Senate.
No Response to Public Inquiries Required
Nothing in this Act shall be construed to require the Director to respond to any inquiry made by a member of the public with respect to any of the information contained in the database established and maintained under section 2 or made available the public on the Internet pursuant to section 3.
In this Act—
the term Clerk means the Clerk of the House of Representatives;
the term Director means the Director of the Congressional Research Service;
the term Member of the House of Representatives includes a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to the Congress; and
the term Secretary means the Secretary of the Senate.