Serfs : Rep. Crenshaw thinks the American public can’t be trusted with overseeing Congress

Posted on June 6, 2012 by


Arrogance lives on both sides of the aisle

This just keeps going on and on and on.  Remember it was Obama the promised America he  would be posting all bills online for 5 days for public review before they were voted on and signed into law?  Well that turned out to be a big fat lie, less than half  of proposed legislation has even been posted for public review more than a day before voting, much less 5 days.  And now this bill, hr 5882  from Florida ‘District 4 Republican Rep Crenshaw’.  Eventually we will be weened of all data that could provide any semblance of accountability by those elected to represent us transparently.  We are in the eyes of the elite political class mere serfs.

by Josh Tauberer of

, member of the United States House of Represe...

Rep. Ander Crenshaw (FL4) and the House subcommittee he chairs decided this week that the American public can’t be trusted with more thorough records about what Congress is doing.

/// Take Action: Write your rep to oppose Crenshaw’s report.
/// Start a Letter >

In a committee report on the legislative branch appropriations bill H.R. 5882, the subcommittee responded to requests from GovTrack, the Sunlight Foundation, Washington Watch, and other watchdog groups about particular technological measures Congress can take to improve legislative transparency. I wrote about our request most recently in March, though I have been asking for the improvements for more than 10 years. We asked for “bulk data,” which means comprehensive records in a format that is machine-processable.

The committee’s response to our request starting on the bottom of page 17 is steeped in technical language, making it hard to quote here. Here are the important parts:

The Committee has heard requests for the increased dissemination of congressional information via bulk data download from non-governmental groups supporting openness and transparency in the legislative process. While sharing these goals, the Committee is also concerned that Congress maintains the ability to ensure that its legislative data files remain intact  . . . once they are removed from the Government’s domain to private sites.

. . . [How would we pay for] Congress to confirm or invalidate third party analyses of legislative data based on bulk downloads in XML?

What they’re saying is that they fear that if the American public is given more detailed and precise records about Congress that we’ll distort it and, well, hurt ourselves I guess. And then, according to the committee, Congress will have to go around correcting us. How insulting!

Especially since for the last eight years I’ve been making this sort of information available on GovTrack, and last I checked that was a good thing. Even Congress’s staff uses GovTrack: Crenshaw’s own staff has probably used GovTrack for their research.

A world without bulk legislative data is a world where everyday citizens couldn’t ask simple questions such as >>>