Mr. FLAKE (during the reading). I ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered as read.
The Acting CHAIR. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Arizona?
There was no objection.
The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to the order of the House of today, the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Flake) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Arizona.
Mr. COLE. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:
__ None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to implement any rule, regulation, or executive order regarding the disclosure of political contributions that takes effect on or after the date of enactment of this Act.
The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to the order of the House of today, the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Cole) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Oklahoma.
Mr. COLE. Mr. Chairman, in April a draft Executive order was circulated that would force companies, as a condition of applying for a Federal contract, to disclose all Federal campaign contributions. In my opinion, if implemented, this Executive order would lead to a significant politicization of the Federal procurement process. Instead of judging companies on the basis of their past work performance, their demonstrated ability to do the job or their price, we would actually introduce potentially
the element of their political participation and contributions and activities into the consideration process.
This Executive order would not, in fact, lead to more objectivity in the evaluation process. It would, instead, chill the constitutionally protected right of people to donate politically to whatever candidate or cause or political party they choose to. Those very same people would fear repercussion to their bottom line as, frankly, I'm sure this Executive order intends to do.
The draft order claims that these burdensome and intrusive disclosure requirements are necessary to ensure that contracting decisions, quote, deliver the best value to the taxpayer and are free from the undue influence of extraneous factors such as political activity or political favoritism. If one accepts this rationale--and I certainly don't--then delivering the, quote, best value to the taxpayer would require such disclosure by anyone receiving Federal dollars.
This Executive order would not apply to Federal employee unions that negotiate with the government to provide billions of dollars in benefits for their members, nor would it apply to many nonprofits that receive Federal grants, many of whom have strong political agendas of their own.
My amendment would prevent any funds from this act going towards the implementation of any rule, regulation, or Executive order regarding political contributions that takes effect on or after the date of the enactment of the act. It is important to recognize, Mr. Chairman, my bill does not change Federal campaign law in any way. It does not change the current disclosure requirements.
My amendment has already been agreed to on three previous pieces of legislation: the Defense Authorization bill for FY 2012, the Homeland Security appropriations bill, and also the Defense appropriations bill.
Mr. Chairman, ``pay-to-play'' has no place in the Federal contracting process. Requiring the disclosure of campaign contributions for government contracts in my opinion does just that.
Congress considered the proposed Executive order, something like it, during the 111th Congress as part of the DISCLOSE Act and rejected it. This Executive order is a backdoor attempt to implement the DISCLOSE Act by executive fiat.
For those reasons, Mr. Chairman, I urge the adoption of the amendment.
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise to support the amendment.
The Department of Energy relies heavily on a dedicated contractor workforce to manage and operate our national laboratories. Therefore, such an Executive order would impact nearly every program at the Department of Energy.
I urge a ``yes'' vote on the gentleman from Oklahoma's amendment, a member of our committee.
Ms. ESHOO. Mr. Chairman, I rise to claim the time in opposition.
The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman from California is recognized for 5 minutes.
Ms. ESHOO. I thank the chairman.
I rise once again in strong opposition to Representative Cole's amendment to block transparency and disclosure for taxpayers. That's what this issue is about. [Page: H5052]
It is with continuing curiosity that when I listened to the gentleman, Mr. Cole, present his view, if in fact you believe in disclosure, bring a bill to the floor. The reason that the House has passed what you keep offering is the House is not presented with an opposing view because my amendment is continually blocked and not accepted to be debated on the floor.
What this is about is the following: there are businesses large and small that receive billions of taxpayer dollars for services and products in doing business with the Federal Government. In return for this public money, they should have the obligation, which is not burdensome, to simply disclose how they use it. That's all this is. When they spend it in our elections, they know it, the recipients know it, but the taxpayers don't know it. That's one hell of a deal. For those who want to keep
it in a dark corner, it's a great deal for them.
The American people have spoken clearly. Last year, a CBS/New York Times poll found that 92 percent of the American people support requiring campaigns, independent groups, businesses to disclose how much money they've raised, where it came from, and how it was used.
I am going to offer my own amendment again, for the fourth time, to require the disclosure which Representative Cole's amendment forbids. I expect, once again, that the majority is going to block it. It's an unfortunate turnaround, I think, from just a few years ago when Republicans led the fight for disclosure. They were for it before they decided to be against it. Does that tag line ring some bells for you? You were thinking that it would be better than restricting contributions. That
was the thinking at the time. But now that the Supreme Court allows unlimited corporate spending, they're against any restrictions whatsoever.
We should oppose any amendments that are designed to keep the public less informed rather than more informed about what happens with their tax dollars. That's what this is about. The majority has made a big deal and talked incessantly about spending. What about this spending? Does this not mean something in terms of the Federal Government and the taxpayers? I think with public dollars comes public responsibility.
This does not present any constitutional issues, no freedom of speech issues. It is not burdensome. It is simply disclosure. If you want to stand with the uber-lobbyists who are representing lobbyists in support of the gentleman from Oklahoma's amendment, be my guest. I didn't come to Congress to do that.
I think that the President's Executive order is sensible, I think it should be put into place, and I think that any legislation brought to this floor to prevent that from happening is really on the wrong side of history.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. COLE. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I would just remind my friend from California that when Republicans brought disclosure, they didn't link it to the contracting process, which this potential Executive order does. I think that's out of bounds.
I would also remind my friend the Democrats opposed that and when Democrats were in the majority, and overwhelmingly in the majority, they failed to enact legislation similar to what she suggests in the DISCLOSE Act.
I think this is something that this legislative body has looked at. If my friend from California wants to introduce a bill to do this, that's perfectly appropriate to it, but doing it in the context of the contracting process is simply wrong. People that are submitting bids will somehow think inevitably that they will be helped or hurt by their political activity. That has no basis in judging the quality of a bid for a Federal contract.
In addition, frankly, my friends have never wanted to apply that same standard to labor unions or to affiliated groups applying for Federal dollars. I would actually agree with them on that. I don't think it has any place in a disclosure in those areas either. There's a place to do this, and there's a place not to do it. Doing it on a contract is inevitably meant to try and use the Federal dollars to impact, one way or another, what groups do politically. That's wrong, we shouldn't allow it,
and we should never, never risk politicizing the procurement process.
With that, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. ANDREWS. I thank my friend for yielding.
I would say to my friend from Oklahoma, through the Chair, that he makes a very compelling case. I agree with him. I think that the secret groups that are funding massive--usually negative--ad campaigns against people running for office should be held to exactly the same standard labor unions are held under present law. If a labor union uses dues money or PAC money or any money to advocate for or against a candidate or a cause, they must disclose it to the public and to their members. That is
precisely the principle that Ms. Eshoo is standing for, and I am proud to stand with her.
If you really believe in something that you say, then you shouldn't be ashamed to let everyone know that you said it. If you really believe that what you're advocating is right for the country, then you will let everyone know that you said it. It's a simple principle of disclosure. It is something that I think is long overdue. Let's not have anybody hide in the shadows of the American political process.
The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.
Mr. COLE. Mr. Chairman, I would just urge the body to support the amendment.
I would disagree with my friend. Sham groups are quite often formed in labor unions or underneath, but that's another debate for another day. Let's just keep outside money out of the procurement process.
I yield back the balance of my time and urge adoption of my amendment.