For Immediate Release: Thursday, September 10, 1998

For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (202) 296-2787

Nader Urges Gingrich to Put Congressional Materials on the Internet in Addition to Starr Report

Responding to House Speaker Newt Gingrich's announcement today that independent counsel Kenneth Starr's report on President Clinton would be placed on the Internet, Ralph Nader urged Speaker Gingrich to put the most important and useful congressional documents on the Internet as well.

"Speaker Gingrich puts the Starr report on the Internet but keeps off the Internet the most important congressional documents," Nader said. "Gingrich shouldn't hide the most important congressional documents from the American people."

"Speaker Gingrich should keep his promise to give citizens the same access to congressional documents as Washington lobbyists," said Gary Ruskin, director of the Congressional Accountability Project.

In November, 1994, Speaker Gingrich made the following promise: "[W]e will change the rules of the House to require that all documents and all conference reports and all committee reports be filed electronically as well as in writing and that they cannot be filed until they are available to any citizen who wants to pull them up. Thus, information will be available to every citizen in the country at the same moment that it is available to the highest paid Washington lobbyist." (November 11, 1994 speech to the Washington Research Group Symposium, reprinted in Contract With America p. 188.)

But Gingrich has not kept his promise. Many of the most valuable congressional documents are rarely available on the Internet, including the most important drafts of bills, such as committee prints, discussion drafts, chairman's marks, and manager's marks.

In addition, Congress has not made available on the Internet a non-partisan searchable database of congressional voting records, draft committee and conference reports, texts of committee mark-ups and amendments, and congressional office expenditure reports. Few committee hearing transcripts and Congressional Research Service reports have been placed on the Internet.