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house Bill H.R. 752

Do Agencies Need to Publish How Much They Pay Out in Legal Fees For Cases They Lose?

Argument in favor

Taxpayers have a right to know how much federal agencies pay out in legal fees to reimburse plaintiffs who successfully sue an agency for taking improper action.

Tinee's Opinion
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02/07/2019
Taxpayers need to be told how their tax dollars are being spent.
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Gopin2018's Opinion
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02/07/2019
The taxpayers have an absolute right to transparency, we’re footing the bill. #MAGA
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02/07/2019
This bill is a bipartisan effort to reinstate the reporting requirements for the Equal Access to Justice Act, and reestablish the original requirements for the payouts by the federal government to successful litigants under the act. A clear and complete description of this act and the challenges that ensued under its implementation can be found here: https://www.strata.org/eaja/. A complete outline of the act is on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_Access_to_Justice_Act The intent of this bill seems to be to reassert the oversight aspects of the bill and make them more functional. During recent years 501(c)(3) environmental organizations have made great use of this act, and the reaffirmation of the oversight aspects of the bill may be an effort to limit excess use by these organizations by examining how much they are benefiting from it. The intent of the original bill was to even the playing field for small businesses and organizations with limited resources. If, as it appears, this is a bipartisan effort to address concerns of the overuse of it by these environmental organizations and obtain data that can be examined for it, I think it’s worth my support and my continued observation of how these changes affect the act’s future applications. https://digitalcommons.law.lsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5567&context=lalrev
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Argument opposed

There's no need for federal agencies to keep a public record of what legal fees they pay to settle a suit when the agency was wrong because there's already media coverage of it.

Steve's Opinion
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02/08/2019
Stupid, often the government is trying to protect consumers, sometimes corporations win. Strengthen consumer protection.
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Andrea's Opinion
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02/07/2019
What everyone needs to do is publish how much they spent whether they win or lose! Corporate money has taken over our government. That's the biggest problem we face today, because hardly any other wins are possible as long as we allow plutocrats to plunder the commons.
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Caren's Opinion
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02/07/2019
Why would it be necessary to disclose a dollar amount when losing a court case. No, this does not make sense but only reflects how demented are those who suggested this.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJanuary 24th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 752?

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. It would reinstate a requirement previously included in the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), when it passed in 1980. 

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 agencies; the Administrative Conference of the United States.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 752

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Doug Collins reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to protect Americans from the federal government's abusive litigation tactics:
“We must protect the American people from abusive litigation tactics they suffer at the hands of the federal government. The Equal Access to Justice Act is a key tool in providing this recourse, but the lack of transparency surrounding payments makes it hard to know whether the law is working as intended. Restoring transparency and reporting requirements will hold the federal government accountable and help ensure our justice system does not abuse its power.”
Rep. Collins originally introduced this bill in the 114th Congress to ensure that federal agencies keep an open record of how much they're paying out in legal settlements and whether the payments are justified:
"People should have recourse to challenge the federal government when it errs, and taxpayers should likewise have access to information about how executive agencies are handling such cases. The Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act protects taxpayers and individual Americans by ensuring that the original law operates effectively and with transparency. This legislation we're introducing better equips Congress and every citizen to hold executive agencies accountable for serving Americans with uprightness."
There are three bipartisan cosponsors of this bill in the current Congress, including two Democrats and one Republican. In the 115th Congress, this legislation passed the House by a voice vote with the bipartisan support of eight cosponsors in the House, including five Republicans and three Democrats. During the 114th Congress this legislation passed the House by voice vote but wasn't considered by the Senate.

Of Note: 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."
Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user srqpix / Creative Commons)

AKA

Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act

Official Title

To amend titles 5 and 28, United States Code, to require 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.

    Taxpayers need to be told how their tax dollars are being spent.
    Like (39)
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    The taxpayers have an absolute right to transparency, we’re footing the bill. #MAGA
    Like (21)
    Follow
    Share
    This bill is a bipartisan effort to reinstate the reporting requirements for the Equal Access to Justice Act, and reestablish the original requirements for the payouts by the federal government to successful litigants under the act. A clear and complete description of this act and the challenges that ensued under its implementation can be found here: https://www.strata.org/eaja/. A complete outline of the act is on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal_Access_to_Justice_Act The intent of this bill seems to be to reassert the oversight aspects of the bill and make them more functional. During recent years 501(c)(3) environmental organizations have made great use of this act, and the reaffirmation of the oversight aspects of the bill may be an effort to limit excess use by these organizations by examining how much they are benefiting from it. The intent of the original bill was to even the playing field for small businesses and organizations with limited resources. If, as it appears, this is a bipartisan effort to address concerns of the overuse of it by these environmental organizations and obtain data that can be examined for it, I think it’s worth my support and my continued observation of how these changes affect the act’s future applications. https://digitalcommons.law.lsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5567&context=lalrev
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    Transparency transparency transparency
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    This information should already be publicly available! These payments should not be shrouded in secrecy!
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    Transparency, Transparency, Transparency! Americans today are more involved and informed on the day to day activity of our government. Knowing how taxpayer monies are spent, (lost), through the legal system and to know how the courts rule on government actions/inactions is an important part of the transparency process.
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    Last I heard.. it’s our money. We should know how it is spent. Accountability. Period.
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    Transparency in all aspects of the government, please. ALL.
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    Yes I support the legislation although it’s mostly already available through the FOIA records request system. Nevertheless, the process can be expensive and generally limited to specific cases and any compilation of data would be the responsibility of the requestor
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    Of course! Transparency ALWAYS!
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    Yes. All spending of the American peoples’ tax money should be accounted for and available for our inspection in an easily understood format.
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    As a tax payer I feel we all have the right to actually know where monies go.
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    They need to publish all legal fees spent. Both for cases they lose and four cases they initiate. Frankly any legal expenses at all. The American public has a right to know how every single penny the government or any part of the government spends is spent.
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    Taxpayer $$$ always
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    Absolutely, I am the chief steward of a federal union local. We have won four or five arbitrations in a row against our agency for the violation of collective bargaining agreements and federal statutes. When we approached the director of my facility to sit down and try to settle differences without going to arbitration he stated that he considered those “losses” a “win” because he cost the union money. We pointed out that he was wasting taxpayer’s money, he just smiled and refused to negotiate.
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    Transparency is key to uncover all unethical practices of the people who are running our Government offices. This information should be used to asses the performance of elected and hired individuals to terminate those whom do not perform or may be a liability to the offices in which they hold or are in charge of.
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    Don’t understand why that isn’t already a rule. Transparency is something our government NEEDS NOW. This is a start. It needs to spread to all parts of the government.
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    It’s our money we should know how it’s spent.
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    YOU DAMN STRAIGHT! AND THE GOP NEEDS TO PAY "WE THE PEOPLE" BACK EVERY PENNY FOR THEIR BOGUS BENGHAZI INVESTIGATIONS! THE ASSHOLES ACTUALLY HAD MORE OF THOSE THAN OF TGE ATTACK ON 9/11. THE GOP KNEW BENGHAZI WAS THEIR FAULT ENTIRELY, CONGRESS HOLDS THE PURSE STRINGS AND THE GOP HAD TOTAL CONTROL OF CONGRESS FROM 2010 UNTIL 2019. NOW DURING THAT TIME PRESIDENT OBAMA ASKED FOR MONEY TO PROTECT OUR OVER SEAS EMBASSIES AND AMBASSADORS, THE GOP SAID NO, TIME AND TIME AGAIN. PAY US BACK YOU LYING ENTITLED ASSHOLES
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    Yes, Federal agencies should publish the cost of their wrongful actions. Federal Agencies exist to serve citizens. The individuals that take the wrongful actions should be held personally accountable. Taxpayers must not be required to pay the legal fees protecting wrongful action. I won one, and "settlement agreement several EEOC complaints. The agency informed me that punishment of the offending individual is forbidden. Agencies protect those they like, and punish the victim.
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