House Approves Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill While Leadership Prioritizes Bulk Access

The House of Representatives approved the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 5882) today by a vote of 307-102. The bill spends $3.3 billion overall, about $33 million below the FY 2012 level and $190 million below the requested level.

Under the bill, the Library of Congress receives $592.6 million, an increase of $5.3 million above the FY 2012 enacted level and $10.9 million below the requested level. The bill allocates $122.6 million for the Government Printing Office (GPO), $3.6 million below the FY 2012 enacted level and $3.6 million below the requested level. GPO’s request for Congressional Printing and Binding and the Salaries and Expenses of the Superintendent of Documents is fully funded by the bill.  The bill cuts GPO’s Revolving Fund to about $4.1 million, $3.75 million below the requested level. However, in a message on the FDLP Desktop, Superintendent of Documents Mary Alice Baish assured readers that GPO has sufficient funding to continue the development of FDsys, including improving the search engine and digitizing the permanent edition of the Congressional Record.

After much attention was given to the subcommittee’s appropriations report language about access to bulk legislative data, the House’s leadership issued a statement adopting the goal of “provid[ing] bulk access to legislative information to the American people without further delay.” In the statement, Speaker John Boehner R-OH-08), Majority Leader Cantor (R-VA-07), Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Crenshaw (R-FL-04), and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Issa (R-CA-49) direct the creation of a task force to expedite the process of making XML information available to the public. The task force will include representatives from the Library of Congress and the Government Printing Office, House leadership and key committees, the Clerk of the House, and the House Chief Administrative Officer. The leadership writes: “Because this effort ranks among our top priorities in the 112th Congress, we will not wait for enactment of a Legislative Branch appropriations bill but will instead direct the task force to begin its important work immediately.”

As the House moves forward with the release of bulk access to legislative data, AALL will continue to work to support efforts to ensure that the data is timely, accurate, and trustworthy.

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