Thursday afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4078, the Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act of 2012, by a vote of 245 to 172.
The bill included Congressman Cynthia Lummis' (Wyo.) amendment to the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), legislation passed in 1980 to reimburse individuals who otherwise could not afford to legally pursue claims against the government. Congress intended that EAJA operate as a social safety net program, with reimbursements available for the nation's veterans, seniors and small businesses. However, as scholarly journals from Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, General Accounting Office reports and open court and tax records show, in recent years, EAJA funds have been flowing to environmental organizations filing suit on procedural grounds.
The Lummis amendment restores transparency to EAJA payments by reinstating tracking and reporting requirements on all attorney reimbursements. The amendment also requires the creation of a searchable, online data base of all EAJA payments so tax-payers can easily access information on payments made, to whom, how much and why. Going forward, the amendment will allow for more careful management of EAJA payments government-wide.
"In a bipartisan way, we have made clear that no one receiving tax-payer funds to pursue legal action against the government can do so in secret," said Lummis.
Reprinted in part from Lummis Press Release