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house Bill H.R. 3279

Do the Feds Need to Publish How Much they Spend on Legal Fees?

Argument in favor

People in the U.S. have the right to know how much money is being spent on legal cases, and the government has a duty to be transparent about it.

operaman's Opinion
···
11/30/2015
Yes! Absolutely, we as taxpayers deserve to know how our government spends our tax dollars. We also need to know if any of these legal fees are for frivolous legal cases to coerce various taxpayers or business to tow the governments way. Example: a poor baker, florist or a church spiritual leader.
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Argument opposed

This bill attempts to unfairly restrict unwanted legal challenges to the government, and tries to suppress disfavored plaintiffs.

Alis's Opinion
···
11/30/2015
Not unless Congress has to reveal the amount of money they waste on useless hearings for which none of them bother to prepare: none bothered to learn how the Department of State operates before the Benghazi committee hearings, none bothered to learn how women's healthcare is delivered before the Planned Parenthood hearing, the members of the Science committees are more committed to the Bible than reality! Just stop being stupid!! Congress wastes huge amounts of money, you have no high ground in which to judge other federal agencies!
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What is House Bill H.R. 3279?

This bill would require the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) to annually prepare a report detailing the amount of fees and other expenses awarded by federal courts to nonfederal entities when they prevail in cases against the U.S.

The annual report is a reinstatement of a requirement previously included in the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), when it was passed in 1980. According to the office of Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY): 
"Congress passed the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) as a means to help individuals, retirees, veterans, and small businesses recover attorney’s fees and costs associated with suing the federal government. Congress intended EAJA to remove a barrier to justice for those with limited access to the resources it takes to sue or defend against the federal government."

Under this legislation, the ACUS would also be required to create a publicly-available searchable online database with information on the cases where fees and expenses were awarded by courts or federal agencies. The ACUS is an independent agency that assists other agencies of the federal government in improving regulatory and other administrative procedures.

Impact

People suing the U.S., federal government agencies, the Administrative Conference of the United States, and the Equal Access to Justice Act.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3279

$1.00 Million
The CBO estimates that this bill would cost $1 million during fiscal year 2016 and $500,000 annually in subsequent years.

More Information

Of Note: Much of the to-do on this issue centers around the concerns expressed by Congressional members over environmental groups abusing provisions of the EAJA. There have been claims that while the original intent of the EAJA was to help out the "small fry" when taking the government to court, it has actually helped big environmental groups to recoup some of the expensive litigation fees they lost when filing suits on environmental issues.

In 2011, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent, nonpartisan agency, published a report that analyzed cases brought against the Environmental Protection Agency. The GAO found that the majority of suits were brought by trade associations or private companies, and that lawyer fees were awarded in under ten percent of cases. 


Media:

(Photo Credit: Flickr user srqpix)

AKA

Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act

Official Title

To amend titles 5 and 28, United States Code, to require annual reports to Congress on, and the maintenance of databases on, awards of fees and other expenses to prevailing parties in certain administrative proceedings and court cases to which the United States is a party, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house Passed November 30th, 2015
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJuly 29th, 2015

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    Yes! Absolutely, we as taxpayers deserve to know how our government spends our tax dollars. We also need to know if any of these legal fees are for frivolous legal cases to coerce various taxpayers or business to tow the governments way. Example: a poor baker, florist or a church spiritual leader.
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    Yes! A searchable database available to the public is a good thing! And, if this reduces abuse of the EAJA by large organizations, even better!
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    Not unless Congress has to reveal the amount of money they waste on useless hearings for which none of them bother to prepare: none bothered to learn how the Department of State operates before the Benghazi committee hearings, none bothered to learn how women's healthcare is delivered before the Planned Parenthood hearing, the members of the Science committees are more committed to the Bible than reality! Just stop being stupid!! Congress wastes huge amounts of money, you have no high ground in which to judge other federal agencies!
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    Yeah. They need to let us know how they're spending our money
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    When my tax dollars are being spent I would like to know where. I know some of them are spent foolishly, but then I also do that sometimes.
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    The Feds and every other gov job. Should give completely honesty to its people. We are entitled to the truth. Just my opinion
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    Then again, that's costly
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    Transparency is the goal!
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    It is very telling that Bernie sanders voted no on this!
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    Yes - the people have a right to how our money us being spent and it needs to be public knowledge, taught in school and part of news reports.
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    Frivolous lawsuits and investigations are a waste of taxpayer money. Knock it off or we'll vote in someone else.
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    The public [American people] have the right to see their tax dollars being spent. This law shows the common sense of our lawmakers.
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    Transparency in everything
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    And disclose who owns the law firms.
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    Why is it that so many of the expenses incurred by our government and on its behalf our secret. The public has a right to know this should have been reported since the origins of the country
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    Lawyers are the epitome of financial corruption in the USA and their profits should be transparent so we can assess the damage to the tax payers pocketbooks.
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