Sarbanes Urges Congress to Increase Capacity and Resources to Counter Well-Funded Special Interests [Video]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress hearing today, Democracy Reform Task Force Chair Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) called on his colleagues to increase Congressional capacity and resources to counter the undue influence of industry lobbyists, corporate special interests and wealthy donors on Capitol Hill.
“… What you see is corporations, outside interest groups, trade associations pouring billions of dollars into this very sophisticated ecosystem of influence which is designed to win the hearts and minds of policymakers and their staff – eager to fill the void that’s created by the demands of modern campaign fundraising and so forth,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “… At the same time, we’ve been cutting our own capacity in ways that are really alarming.”
Sarbanes continued: “Look at the cuts to resources that we have for the experts that we rely on. The Congressional Research Service, the now-moribund Office of Technology Assessment, as an example, again, of cutting our own capacity – an example of cutting our own expertise. Low pay, long hours for our staff have led to increased turnover, degraded institutional memory, weakened our basic capacity, which only further empowers these outside interests to fill the vacuum.”
Sarbanes concluded: “As you do your work, I certainly urge every member here to think about this dynamic that I am talking about and engage honestly with the reality that we have voluntarily weakened our own capacity to govern. Our job is to serve the public interest, and when we surrender our capacity, we fail to do our jobs to the fullest.”
See below for full video of the Congressman’s testimony.