Congress this week approved a bill to free thousands of federal government employees from having to disclose their financial dealings online, rushing the bill through the Senate late Thursday and through the House on Friday.
But the push to undo the online reporting requirement is proving to be controversial.
The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) said that posting all of that information online posed a national security risk. But the Sunlight Foundation, an open government group, said releasing staffers from online disclosure eviscerates part of last year’s Stock Act, designed to stop insider trading by federal officials.
“Rather than craft narrow exemptions, or even delay implementation until proper protections could be created, the Senate decided instead to exclude legislative and executive staffers from the online disclosure requirements,” Lisa Rosenberg, government affairs consultant for the Sunlight Foundation, wrote in a blog posting.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, introduced the bill on Thursday and had the chamber vote on it late that evening. The House took the bill up on Friday afternoon and passed it by unanimous consent, with no members objecting.
Republican leaders did not give lawmakers the traditional three days to read the bill before holding a vote. One GOP aide told The Washington Times the three-day rule did not apply to Friday’s action because the bill came from the Senate, while another said the House moved quickly because of a Monday deadline for the new disclosure mandates to take effect.
“In December when we extended the Stock Act deadline of public disclosure for financial disclosure, we required a study by the nonpartisan and independent National Academy of Public Administration,” said Rory Cooper, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican. “This was their recommendation and the House and Senate agreed it was the best course of action for the time being.”
The legislation now goes to President Obama for his signature.