Bills attempt to preempt executive order


In direct response to a presidential order under consideration, lawmakers today introduced two bills to prevent federal agencies from collecting or using information about contractors’ political expenditures.

Several lawmakers — most of whom are Republican — have asked the president to abandon his plans for an executive order, a draft of which was leaked last month, that would require potential contractors to report their campaign contributions and political expenditures before being awarded government contracts.

After the leak, White House officials said they are considering the policy as a way to add more transparency to the contracting process. But it has been a month with no action from the president.

So Republicans in both the House and Senate have introduced preemptive measures that would prohibit federal agencies from essentially doing what the executive order would require.

An amendment with similar language was also included in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which the House passed today.

The opposing lawmakers, backed by contractor groups, argue that the executive order could silence contractors’ support of political groups and politicize the federal procurement process.

They say the president is trying to override the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which protected corporate donations to political organizations and drove millions of dollars into the 2010 elections.

The president and Democratic members of Congress were unsuccessful in passing a bill last year requiring disclosure of the donors to political organizations.


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