September 18, 1995

Speaker Newt Gingrich
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
via Internet:
voice 202/225-4501; fax 202/225-4656

Dear Mr. Speaker:

We are writing to express our outrage over the House of Representatives' failure to provide the public copies of
Representative Archer's "Chairman's Mark" for the tax bill which will be marked up today at 5 pm in the House Ways and Means Committee. We contacted the House Ways and Means Committee to obtain copies of the legislation, and were told that it was only available on paper from the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA), or online from commercial vendors, such as LEXIS/NEXIS. Representative Archer's staff gave us a telephone number for BNA (202/452-4323). BNA told us that the price of the bill is $27. The Archer staffer said the bill runs more than 700 pages.

Unless the bill was written by BNA, the House of Representatives must have a copy in digital form. Your promise that
Congressional information "will be available to every citizen in the country at the same moment that it is available to the highest paid Washington lobbyist" is pretty meaningless if the Chairman's Mark for a 700 page tax bill involving billions of dollars isn't available from THOMAS or the Committee before the mark-up. What's the deal?

If citizens can't get copies of a bill before committee action, and lobbyists can, lobbyists will continue to have more access to the legislative process than ordinary citizens.

We wrote to you on August 22, 1995 to express our concerns about the very problems which occurred today. We have yet to receive a response. Please tell us what you plan to do to keep your promise regarding citizen access to Congressional information.

James Love, Taxpayer Assets Project, 202/387-8030,
Gary Ruskin, Congressional Accountability Project, 202/296-2787,
Ellen Miller, Center for Responsive Politics, 202/202/857-0044