|Rep. Eshoo Floor Statement on Amendment Requiring Disclosure of Federal Contractors' Political Activity|
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) spoke on the House floor in support of her amendment to the legislation funding the Department of Defense. Her amendment would require any corporation or business entity awarded a federal contract to disclose its political expenditures. The amendment was ruled out of order.
"Mr. Chairman, I rise for the third time this year to call for transparency in our political system. This appropriation bill will spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars next year, and a huge portion of it, a portion that's impossible to quantify, will go to contractors. Some are small, others rank among the world's largest companies. As we meet today, the workforce of contractors in Afghanistan is the same size as the workforce of uniformed personnel there. And since 2005, we've spent approximately $12 billion on contractors in Afghanistan.
"And today, there are more private contractors – listen up everyone – there are more private contractors than uniformed personnel in Iraq, and we've spent $112 billion on contractors in Iraq since 2005.
"The federal government does business with thousands of contractors who receive billions of dollars in taxpayer money. They should be required to disclose their spending, and that's what my amendment will accomplish.
"In 2002, when we voted to pass the historic McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill, most Republicans voted no, saying we needed disclosure, not soft money restrictions. They said we needed to put spending out in the open and let the voters assess it. Today, when the President proposes requiring contractors to simply disclose their spending, not to limit it, Republicans are up in arms.
"They say it will politicize the contracting process. But when contractors can spend money in elections, the contracting process is already politicized. My amendment is modest and it's simple: it will bring this information out into the open, and let the public decide for themselves. The public deserves to know what happens with their tax money.
"Mr. Speaker, this is not a revolutionary idea. For the last 17 years, the SEC requires bond dealers to limit their campaign contributions to the officials in cities that issue bonds. It requires them to disclose their contributions, providing the public with transparency. The rule was challenged and upheld in Court, and my amendment really adheres to the same principle. To quote Senator Mitch McConnell from 2003, "Why would a little disclosure be better than a lot of disclosure? I agree with Senator McConnell.
"With public dollars come public responsibilities. Disclosure would fulfill this responsibility.
"I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time."
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