Tuesday, 15 August 1995 20:13

GOP Effort to Defund the ARRB

The attempt in 1995, largely unsuccessful thanks to the lobbying efforts of COPA and others, is recorded here for posterity.

From the July-August, 1995 issue (Vol. 2 No. 5) of Probe

The story broke suddenly in The Wall Street Journal of June 23, 1995. The Republicans in the House were looking for funds to cut from the federal government's operating budget. The first move was to pass a bill cutting $155,000,000 and eliminating 2,700 jobs from operations of the House and legislative agencies such as the General Accounting Office. Then Speaker Newt Gingrich and Majority Leader Dick Armey apparently had their legislative aides go through the White House budget and target agencies they felt were unnecessary and expendable. In the sixteenth and next to last paragraph of the Wall Street Journal story noted above, the reference to eliminating the Review Board appeared. Ironically a quote from Armey in the story read that, "I hope that we can set straight a perception of wrongdoing." How Congress could do this by saving a whopping two million (approximate ARRB budget) from a one and a half trillion dollar budget escapes us. Precisely the opposite effect would occur. But this statement and this effort shows us even more how out of touch our Washington representatives are.

When this story got out and circulated to the members of the ARRB and the research community, a coordinated effort took place to lobby the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government. This effort was led by representatives and friends of COPA like John Judge, Dan Alcorn, John Newman, and Washington columnist Sarah McClendon. As a result of this effort, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D) of Maryland sponsored an amendment that restored funding in the House to 2.15 million for the ARRB. The bill was passed and then sent on to the equivalent committee in the Senate led by Sen. Shelby (R) of Alabama and Sen. Kerrey (D) of Nebraska. It was passed there also. The villain in this drama was Rep. Jim Lightfoot (R) of Iowa who originally moved the bill to cancel the ARRB in the House Committee on Appropriations. We understand that the line being sold in the House was that the National Archives could do the equivalent job that the ARRB was doing. We won't comment on the inanity of that obvious deception.

There was a downside in all this though. President Clinton had originally asked for an operating budget of 2.4 million. In the view of many, that was not enough. But the amount voted in both the Senate and House versions of the bill was 2.15 million. It seems the DeConcini effort of the previous year to whittle down the budget has taken a mental hold on the funding figure in Congress. Next year Probe will prepare its readership in advance to lobby the appropriate committees for the higher figure.

~ Jim DiEugenio

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