February 11, 2003
Senator John McCain
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Senator Patrick Leahy
433 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senators McCain and Leahy:
We heartily endorse your resolution to place useful congressional documents on the Internet, including Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports and Issue Briefs, CRS Authorization and Appropriation products, and Senate gift disclosure reports. This resolution is a simple and inexpensive way to improve our democracy.
Citizens need access to congressional documents to discharge their civic duties. Regrettably, the 20th Century has come and gone, and yet Congress still has not put many of its most important documents on the Internet. Your resolution will help fix this problem.
The Congressional Research Service is a taxpayer-funded research arm of Congress. Their research materials are among the best produced by the federal government. They explain, with fairness and clarity, the controversies and complexities surrounding the most pressing issues of our day. This research belongs on the Internet. Taxpayers deserve easy access to the documents we pay for.
We applaud the resolution's directive that Senate committees should "provide access via the Internet to publicly-available committee information, documents and proceedings, including bills, reports, and official transcripts of committee meetings that are open to the public."
In 1822, James Madison explained why citizens need such information: "A popular Government," he wrote, "without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
American Association of Law Libraries
American Library Association
American Society of Newspaper Editors
Association of Research Libraries
Center for Democracy and Technology
Center for Digital Democracy
Center for Responsive Politics
Computer & Communications Industry Association
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Congressional Accountability Project
Consumer Federation of America
Consumer Project on Technology
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Federation of American Scientists
Friends of the Earth
Green Party of the United States
Medical Library Association
National Federation of Press Women
National Security Archive
National Taxpayers Union
National Newspaper Association
Project on Government Oversight
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Society of Professional Journalists
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Union of Concerned Scientists
U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG)