By Debbie Siegelbaum - 04/18/12 06:34 PM EDT
Divulging such information would breach CRS’s policy of confidentiality, Mazanec noted. A Legislative Branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS provides policy and legal analysis to committees and members of both the House and Senate.
This is not the first time the Republican-led House has been critical of the Obama administration’s efforts to increase transparency.
House Republicans are taking steps to grant CRS greater authority in seeking information from the White House, however.
Last July, Nugent’s Republican colleague on the House Administration Oversight Subcommittee, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), introduced a bill that would require all federal agencies to furnish the CRS director with any information and data deemed necessary to fulfill a request from a member of Congress.
The legislation, referred to the House Administration Committee last year, has garnered surprising Democratic support. Three of the bill’s four cosponsors are House Democrats: Reps. Robert Andrews (N.J.), William Owens (N.Y.) and Mike Quigley (Ill.).
According to Mazanec, the proposed legislation would aid CRS in receiving information more efficiently from the Executive Branch.
“Rep. Schock has a pending bill that would give the director of the CRS the authority to seek information directly from the Executive Branch agencies if it’s to respond to a request from a member and if the member approves,” she testified.
“We think this would make us better able to serve the Congress so we can continue to provide a comprehensive, authoritative product,” she concluded.
In response, Nugent highlighted the need for support on both sides of the aisle for the proposed legislation, which he deemed “nonpartisan.”
“It shouldn’t matter what member it’s for or who it’s for, because you’re really trying to give an independent, nonpartisan response,” he told Mazanec. “No matter what side, whether it’s majority or minority, we want to make sure that we get authority in regards to response so that we can make decisions and we can move forward on legislation.”
“We depend upon CRS’s objectivity to give us good solid information,” Nugent concluded. “We could get information on the partisan side, but we don’t necessarily want to make a decision based upon that.”