American taxpayers spend more than $100 million a year supporting the work of the Congressional Research Service. Their findings, reports and analysis should be public information. It is good public policy to allow educators, students, members of the news media and everyday citizens access to CRS' non-partisan taxpayer-funded reports. This issue is bipartisan and we hope will attract the interest of the new Speaker of the House and the new Librarian of Congress.
By providing public access to CRS reports, we can elevate our national discourse and make it easier for citizens to cut through the misinformation that too often pollutes the national debate. The American taxpayer deserves access to the same objective and nonpartisan CRS analyses on which we rely as Members of Congress. What is good for Congress should be good for the general public.
CRS is governed by requirements for accuracy, objectivity, balance and nonpartisanship – the very sort of analysis sought and valued by engaged constituents. The lawyers, economists, reference librarians and scientists of CRS offer valuable research and analysis to members of Congress and their staff on all current and emerging issues of national policy. And too often, connected individuals and special interest groups have no trouble getting their hands on these reports. The public should not be left out.
And the fix is really very simple. Changing IP addresses and accessibility permissions for the CRS website will have little to no costs. We are not talking about requests our constituents make for information through Member offices. That research and those inquiries will of course remain confidential between constituents and their Member of Congress.
CRS provides the best possible information and analysis on which to base the policy decisions and we believe that information should be publically available. Public debate has become increasingly partisan and polarized so it is more important than ever for citizens to have full access to the same neutral, unbiased information that many of us rely on to help us formulate important decisions. Opening CRS to the public will empower our constituents with vital information about key issues, policies and budgets and inject more agreed upon facts and figures into our public discourse.
Lance has represented New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District since 2009. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee. Quigley has represented Illinois’ 5th Congressional District since 2009. He sits on the Appropriations and the Intelligence committees. They are the lead sponsors of H.Res.34 - Directing the Clerk of the House of Representatives to provide members of the public with Internet access to certain Congressional Research Service publications.