December 3, 1996
Honorable Gerald Solomon
Chairman, House Rules Committee
The Capitol, H-312
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Solomon:
On November 22, 1996 the House Republican Conference approved a proposed House Rule requiring House committees to make certain committee documents available to the public via the Internet. This proposed Rule is greatly needed; most citizens currently find it very difficult and time-consuming to obtain most congressional documents. The barriers to obtaining congressional documents are a hindrance to public participation in the congressional legislative process.
The text of the House Republican Conference's proposed House Rule has not yet been released to the public. However, we understand that a recent draft of the proposed text of the Rule states:
Each Committee shall, to the maximum extent feasible, make its publications available in electronic form. (Rule XI, clause 2(e)).
This proposed House Rule, if approved by the full House of Representatives, would likely be a significant step forward in providing citizens with Internet access to key Congressional documents if the term "publication" is interpreted broadly. However, the meaning of "publication" is not defined in the proposed House Rule. What is you understanding of the meaning of the term "publication" within the proposed Rule? Which documents does it include? Does it encompass committee prints and subcommittee prints of bills, discussion drafts of bills, chairman's marks, corrected and uncorrected transcripts of House committee hearings, and corrected and uncorrected mark-up transcripts? The Rule would be more clear if you defined the term "publication":
For the purposes of this House Rule, the term "publication" includes, at a minimum, any committee print, subcommittee print, discussion draft, corrected or uncorrected hearing transcript, corrected or uncorrected mark-up transcript, text of a committee amendment, or other report prepared by a House committee.
Taxpayers should be able to read these public documents in a timely manner, via the Internet.