US House passes government contracts database bill to address ethics concerns

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] Wednesday passed the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 [S 2590 summary], legislation that provides for the creation of a website to allow the public access to information regarding companies which receive government contracts and grants. The new measure, which was approved by a voice vote, calls for the Internet site to be operational by 2008. The ethics legislation comes after several contract abuse scandals involving Republicans, including one involving former US Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham [Wikipedia backgrounder], who pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to receiving $2.4 million in bribes related to US Defense Department [official website] contracts, and Jack Abramoff [JURIST news archive], who pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to fraud charges in connection to his lobbying efforts with Republican leaders.

House Republicans are also attempting to pass another bill this week which would require the sponsors of federally funded local projects to be listed publicly. The practice, called "earmarking" or "pork barrel" spending [Wikipedia backgrounder], has been criticized as being secretive by members of both parties who commonly use it to bring funds home to their constituencies. The US Senate [official website] approved a similar Internet database measure last week, but has not considered any reforms to earmarking. Reuters has more.

6:50 PM ET - The House has now passed the earmarking measure, H Res. 1000 [summary], by a 245-171 vote [roll call]. AP has more.

 

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