Statement on the Accountability in Contracting Act

i thank the chairman for yielding. i thank mr. davis for his work on this legislation. TimeCode: 11:56:27.7 i rise in strong support. i want to commend the chairman on the committee on oversight and government reform, congressman waxman, on the five -- not this bill -- but on the TimeCode: 11:56:43.0 five transparency bills considered on the house floor this week. this has been a very significant week for transparency, openness and accountability in government. and i commend the chairman for his actions, and the committee TimeCode: 11:56:58.4 for its. it is no mere coincidence that the four bipartisan bills we have considered so far have passed with an average of 340 votes, including on average 112 TimeCode: 11:57:14.2 republican votes for every one of these four and now fifth reform bills. so that there is not a narrow partisan agenda here. what the committee has been bringing to the floor are bills TimeCode: 11:57:27.9 broadly supported because we know that transparency and accountability in government have not been the norm. we need to restore the public's faith in its government. in fact, there is a clear demonstration of the new TimeCode: 11:57:42.5 democratic majority's commitment to change the way business is done in washington. to restore accountability for government practices and congressional oversight and to reach bipartisan consensus when possible. TimeCode: 11:57:57.5 the four bills included measures to increase public access to government information by strengthening the freedom of information act. after all, this information is gathered by taxpayer dollars to provide whistleblower protection to federal workers who TimeCode: 11:58:15.2 specialize in national security issues. to nullify an executive order giving former presidents and vice presidents broad authority to hold presidential records or to delay their release indefinitely. TimeCode: 11:58:29.8 the public has a right to know, and this legislation facilitates the redress of that right. lastly, to require the disclosure of donors to presidential libraries so there cannot be secret, very large contributions to presidents TimeCode: 11:58:45.4 before they leave office. it should be noted that the first three measures passed overwhelmingly despite veto threats from the white house that apparently does not want openness or accountability or transpeashes parentsy. TimeCode: 11:59:02.8 -- transparency. all four bills are reasonable, prudent and consistent with our nation's democratic values and openness and accountability. the legislation before us today, the accountability in contracting act, is equally important. TimeCode: 11:59:18.3 in short, this legislation would instruct federal agencies to minimize the use of no-bid contracts. why? because we want lowest prices. how do we get lowest prices? by competition. that's the free enterprise system. this bill says, let us pursue the free enterprise system. TimeCode: 11:59:36.9 promote the use of cost-effective contracts and limit no-bid contracts awarded in emergencies for one year. it would require the public disclosure of rationale for using no-bid contracts and require agencies to report to TimeCode: 11:59:53.4 congress on contracts on overcharges. madam speaker, it is unfortunate TimeCode: 12:00:02.2 but true that problems in government contracting have arisen again and again during the last six years and indeed before that. from the $2.4 billion, however, in no-bid contracts for halliburton that soon to be TimeCode: 12:00:15.8 dubai company, based in dubai, to the failed contracting in the aftermath of hurricane katrina. . it should be noted that spending on no-bid contracts has more than doubled under the TimeCode: 12:00:31.3 bush administration. even as hearings have exposed a pattern of reckless spending, poor planning and ineffective oversight by federal contract officials. this legislation, like the other four bills brought to the floor by mr. waxman, considered TimeCode: 12:00:47.4 this week, will help us begin to restore accountability and transparency to government. the american people expect and deserve no less. this is a new day in this new congress. TimeCode: 12:01:01.6 the days of hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil are over. this congress embraces its constitutional responsibility to conduct real, meaningful oversight as well as our value of openness and transparency. TimeCode: 12:01:20.1 i urge my colleagues -- two days from now, st. patrick's day. TimeCode: 12:01:34.0 the prime minister of ireland will be at a lunch just a few feet from here any minute. honor st. patrick. vote green on this accountability legislation. mr. davis: will the gentleman TimeCode: 12:01:52.2 yield? on the bills of the presidential records, the foia and whistleblowers, mr. waxman and his staff have worked with us. and the reason we got such big bipartisan majorities is their willingness to bend and our TimeCode: 12:02:07.0 ability to work back and forth. we have other differences on this bill, which is close to my heart, i think he understands and we understand. even here, they have worked with us. and the record should note that they have gone out of their way and we appreciate that. mr. hoyer: would my friend TimeCode: 12:02:22.4 yield? i guess i have the time -- i yielded to you. mr. davis: longest minute. mr. hoyer: i want to say that i spoke a lot about accountability and the lack of accountability in the last congress. and in my opinion, two congresses before that. TimeCode: 12:02:38.4 the chairman of the government reform committee was one of the few chairmen in my opinion in the congress, in the last congress, who undertook some oversight responsibility and i commend him for that. i think we needed to go further and we are going further. TimeCode: 12:02:54.8 but i commend him for his recognition that oversight is a critical responsibility of this congress, just as the referee is a critically important component of any football or basketball game. i thank him for his cooperation TimeCode: 12:03:11.5 and working with our chairman on the three bills that we passed this week so far. and i would hope that we could pass this bill. if we make it better in conference, that's fine. but this is a good and important bill. and i thank the gentleman for TimeCode: 12:03:26.4 his efforts.