Business Insider: A House Republican and Democrat are introducing a bill that would require members of Congress to file financial disclosures electronically


A bipartisan duo of House members will introduce a bill on Tuesday to require members of Congress to file financial disclosures electronically, according to a release shared exclusively with Insider.

Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Republican Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota are introducing the Easy to Read Electronic and Accessible Disclosures (READ) Act, which would allow users to search, sort, and download financial disclosure data filed by House members, Senators, and candidates for both chambers.

The simple, two-page bill would also ensure that the resulting user interface is accessible to people with disabilities by mandating compliance with the Rehabilitation Act.

As Insider’s Dave Levinthal reported in May, members of Congress are currently allowed to submit their yearly financial disclosures — as well as periodic reports on their stock trades — via paper on a pre-printed form.

That’s led to lots of members submitting disclosures that are essentially impossible to read.

Retiring Republican Rep. Fred Upton, for example, often hand-writes his reports.

Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna of California files reports that his office claims are legible when filed, only to appear garbled when uploaded electronically.

“[Khanna] is committed to transparency and looking into options to make it easier to read the scan of his disclosure forms in the future,” spokesperson Marie Baldassarre told Insider in May. “The originals he files are always very legible.”

“Poor penmanship shouldn’t be the enemy of transparency,” said Spanberger in the release. “By making this change, we can increase transparency and help rebuild a degree of trust in our democracy.”

“This bill is commonsense,” said Johnson in the release. “Congress has a public trust problem, and we should do all we can to ensure our constituents have faith in their elected officials.”

The bill has been endorsed by outside advocacy groups across the political spectrum, including the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), Public Citizen, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Taxpayers Protection Alliance, National Taxpayers Union, and FreedomWorks.

“Government is only as effective as it is open and accessible,” said Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, a government affairs manager at POGO. “This means that government records, including financial disclosures filed by elected officials, must be easy to find and easy to understand.”

“These requirements will help bring critical transparency to the financial situation of members of Congress and more opportunity to spot potential conflicts of interest,” added Hedtler-Gaudette.

The bill comes amid a broader push to ban members of Congress from trading stocks. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated last week that a bill banning trading could come to the floor this month, though some lawmakers in her own party are skeptical that will happen.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon told Insider last week that a consensus bill to tackle the issue wouldn’t come until after the midterms.

Recent Posts

Feb 29, 2024
Economy & Jobs

Spanberger Statement on Vote to Prevent Government Shutdown, Protect Virginia’s Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today released the following statement after voting with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House to pass a short-term, stopgap funding measure — known as a “continuing resolution” — to avoid a shutdown that would damage Virginia’s economy. The legislation includes two staggered deadlines to keep the federal […]

Feb 29, 2024

During Black History Month, Spanberger Introduces Bill to Name Fredericksburg Post Office for Civil Rights Leader, Gladys P. Todd

Gladys P. Todd Was A Revered School Teacher, Voting Rights Advocate, & Community Organizer in Fredericksburg WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today introduced legislation to rename a Fredericksburg post office after Gladys P. Todd, a prominent leader in the Fredericksburg civil rights movement. Located at 1285 Emancipation Highway in Fredericksburg, the post office […]

Feb 28, 2024

Spanberger Leads Virginia Lawmakers in Working to Protect $30 Internet Discount for Virginia Families, Fund Affordable Connectivity Program

The “Affordable Connectivity Program” Right Now Helps More than 455,000 Virginia Households Afford High-Speed Internet WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today led members of the Virginia congressional delegation in a bipartisan effort urging the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations to extend funding for a key discount program that allows more Virginia families to […]