WASHINGTON – Today, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) joined the bipartisan Congressional Transparency Caucus as a Vice-Chair and will aid Caucus Chair Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Co-Chair Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) in their efforts. The American people have the right to access their government’s information and the Caucus will help raise awareness about policy efforts in the 117th Congress to pursue open government, improve public access to federal laws and regulations, and provide spending transparency and budget accountability.
Ranking Member Comer joined the Caucus’ first briefing in the 117th Congress by emphasizing the importance of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee’s (PRAC) work. He highlighted PRAC’s critical mission in helping root out waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government’s unprecedented pandemic relief spending programs. He noted the duty Congress has to taxpayers to make sure pandemic relief is being spent properly and administered effectively. In addition, Ranking Member Comer spoke in favor of commonsense legislation which would provide Congress the tools to identify and fix duplicative, fragmented, and inefficient federal programs and better transparency over federal budgeting and agency reports. He concluded by stating the importance of remaining diligently focused on proper oversight of legislation already enacted into law.
Below are his remarks as prepared:
Thank you for holding this important briefing today to discuss the importance of transparency in government and the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee’s work to oversee the massive government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PRAC has a vital mission to help root out waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government’s unprecedented pandemic relief spending programs.
The Congressional Transparency Caucus has done great work bringing attention to the need for greater transparency in government programs and working on legislation that enables better oversight.
That is why I’m pleased to join Carolyn Maloney as the Vice-Chair of the Congressional Transparency Caucus.
Together, Congressman Tim Walberg, Mike Quigley, and I have supported vital governance principles such as open government, making federal laws and regulations more accessible, ensuring clear performance standards for federal agencies, and empowering the public’s ability to track federal spending and understand the federal budget.
Caucus Chair Mike Quigley and I worked together on the Congressional Budget Justification Act and the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act.
The Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act, which I am pleased to say has finally been signed into law, is a long overdue reform to ensure Congress and the public can understand the full scope of the President’s annual federal budget request.
In July, the House also passed the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act.
This bill will make all Congressionally mandated agency reports easily accessible to the public and every member of Congress.
Last year, Tim Walberg and I helped enact the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act.
That legislation will help Congress and the public gain insight into the government’s organizational structure and provide a comparable list of all federal agency programs.
Such commonsense legislation will give us the tools to identify and fix duplicative, fragmented, and inefficient federal programs.
These transparency initiatives are good government solutions that will help Congress conduct better oversight and the American people better understand what is going on with their government.
However, Congress must also remain diligently focused on proper oversight of the laws we have already passed.
That’s why I’m looking forward to hearing from today’s panel of experts.
This will be an important discussion of the ongoing work across the federal government to investigate the waste, fraud, and abuse that we know exists in the agency’s pandemic relief response programs.
Since March 2020, Congress has appropriated more than $5 trillion in pandemic relief funding, including $500 billion for the U.S. Treasury’s Coronavirus Relief Fund and Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.
This unparalleled amount of money and the expedited timetable for distributing funds, makes this spending particularly vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse.
We have a duty to taxpayers to make sure pandemic relief is being spent properly and administered effectively.
I am pleased that the Congressional Transparency Caucus has taken up this topic as its first briefing in the 117th Congress.
Thank you for your participation today.
I hope the insights will help inform the work of standing Committees like the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, on which many of the Transparency Caucus’s members also serve.