House delays rules requiring officials to put financial info online

The House voted Wednesday to delay a law forcing senior government officials to publish information about their finances online. 

It's the second time Congress has acted to delay implementation of the much-heralded law aimed at improving government transparency. The House vote would push the deadline for implementation to April 15, 2013. 

In September, Congress voted to delay the reporting requirement under the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act until Dec. 8, 2012.

The law would require about 28,000 senior officials to disclose their finances online. 

The House voted to pass H.R. 6634 the same day it was introduced by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

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The Senate is likely to pass the bill today — the Senate is not expected to be in Friday, so passage today is needed if Congress is to act in time to extend the current Dec. 8 deadline.

The new delay appears to be a reaction to the demands of federal workers, who have argued that requiring the publication of officials' financial information could threaten U.S. national security.

Groups representing federal workers have argued that the publication requirement should be scrapped altogether, or at least should be delayed until the completion of a study on what security and privacy risks are posed by making the information public. That study was authorized by Congress in September as part of the first delay, and will be completed by the National Academy of Public Administration sometime in 2013.

"They should have a chance to look at the study and decide whether or not to repeal the provision," Bill Bransford, general counsel of the Senior Executives Association, said in October.

Cantor's bill would appear to provide enough time to complete the study and give Congress some time to assess its results.

When Congress approved the first delay in September, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said he hoped the study will show no need to require senior officials across the government to post their financial information online.

"I am confident that the National Academy study will show that this policy is unnecessary and potentially very harmful," Moran said.

The STOCK Act was a response to charges that members of Congress and senior officials in the government were finding ways to benefit financially from the information they learned on the job. The delay in the public reporting requirements for senior officials does not apply to members of Congress, the president or the vice president.

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