The Federal Register is the official journal of the federal government of the United States that contains government agency rules, proposed rules, and public notices. There’s a particularly damaging bill, H.R. 195: Federal Register Printing Savings Act of 2017, winding its way through Congress, having already passed the House, reported out of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and is pending action and vote on the Senate floor. If passed, the bill — “To amend title 44, United States Code, to restrict the distribution of free printed copies of the Federal Register to Members of Congress and other officers and employees of the United States, and for other purposes” — would restrict the printing of copies of the Federal Register only to Members of Congress and Government officials.
What’s even worse, FGI sources say that Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is set to propose an amendment to HR 195 that would eliminate the printing not only of the Federal Register, but of copies of congressional hearings, committee reports, and bills, resolutions, and amendments in both the Senate and the House.
If enacted, the amendment would prohibit the printing of these legislative documents for the use of both the Senate and the House. The dollar value of hearings, reports, and bills represents approximately 33%, or $26.3 million, of GPO’s total Congressional Publishing Appropriation of $78.5 million for FY 2018. As a result, the amendment would increase the cost of other congressional printing that remains with GPO, since GPO’s mandatory overhead costs — such as its Office of the Inspector General, police security, and other costs, which will still have to be recovered — will have to be spread over a smaller revenue base.
FDLP libraries needing access to print copies of hearings, reports, and bills for their patrons, including those in Missouri, won’t get them automatically anymore. Instead, the FDLP will have to requisition their printing, and the program will have to absorb all printing costs, which will result in a reduction of other services unless the appropriation for the Public Information Programs of the Superintendent of Documents is increased.
CONTACT SENATOR MCCASKILL NOW AND TELL HER TO KILL HER AMENDMENT AND VOTE NO! ON HR 195. And if you’re not from Missouri, please contact your Senators, ESPECIALLY those on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs!!
There was some very positive discussion about Title 44, Chapter 19 at last week’s DLC meeting. And nearly 1000 people have signed our petition in support of Title 44 and the FDLP (have you?!). But the FDLP community needs to be vigilant that positive FDLP updates to title 44 Chapter 19 do not provide cover for damaging movements of privatization and commercialization of govt information provision and GPO funding in other parts of title 44. Budgetary and operational impacts on GPO other than on chapter 19 — like HR 195! — can directly affect the FDLP program, libraries and public access just the same.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
From the text of the bill and the Committee Report, it sounds like the bill will simply require members of Congress to request print copies if they want them, rather than the GPO sending all members of Congress a daily print copy. I don’t see that this would impact the FDLP at all. Am I missing something?
Hi Matthew. Thanks for the comment. While the CBO score for HR 195 mentions no impact on GPO and a savings of @ $1million/year, it does not take into account the impact if ALL congressional publications are included as the McCaskill amendment would like to do. In that case, GPO would lose a very large portion — perhaps 30% or more — of their funding. That funding is used to pay for everything from GPO police to LSCM and FDLP.
Has there been any confirmation of the McCaskill amendment? I’m interested in tracking that down.
Hi Stacy. I haven’t heard anything new. Just checked McCaskill’s site and no word there. You could contact McCaskill directly and ask. Let us know what you find out.