House to consider funding-database bill

House and Senate leaders agreed on specific language to iron out the differences in similar bills to track federal grants.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:15 a.m. Sept. 11, 2006. See what’s changed at Corrections & Clarifications.

The House will take up a bill next week that would create a Google-like search engine and database to track about $1 trillion in federal grants, contracts, earmarks and loans, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced today.

House and Senate leaders agreed on specific language to iron out the differences between a similar House bill and Sen. Tom Coburn’s Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, which the Senate passed Sept. 7.

The House unanimously passed the Federal Spending and Assistance bill June 21, sponsored by House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). The bill would create a database on who receives federal grants.

“This process has focused on enhancing the accountability and transparency in the federal budget process,” said Boehner, Blunt and House Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) in a joint statement.

The federal government awards about $300 billion in grants to roughly 30,000 organizations. Each year, about 1 million contracts exceed the $25,000 reporting threshold, according to the joint statement.

“If we’re going to hold the federal government accountable for its performance, then we need to empower the public with basic information about who’s receiving federal dollars and what’s being done with them,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said.

Several senators had placed holds on the bill, blocking the legislation from floor consideration. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) admitted to placing a hold, and Coburn’s staff suspected that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) also had used the procedure, according to a statement. The holds were later released.

Reports state that bloggers contacted every senator’s office to figure out who had placed holds.

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