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Congressmen Collins and Cohen Introduce the "Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act"

Jul 29, 2015

Congressmen Collins and Cohen Introduce the “Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act”

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Doug Collins and Congressman Steve Cohen introduced H.R. 3279, the “Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act”. This legislation will strengthen the Equal Access to Justice Act, passed in 1980, by reinstating the tracking and reporting requirements on how much money is being paid out by the federal government under EAJA. The Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act increases transparency by requiring the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) to submit an annual report to Congress and establish an online searchable database to allow public access to information on the amount being spent on attorneys’ fees under EAJA. This allows taxpayers to see to whom their money is being paid and from which agencies.

EAJA was originally passed as a means to help individuals, retirees, veterans, and small businesses recover attorneys’ fees and costs associated with suing the federal government. The Open Book for Equal Access to Justice Act helps ensure that agencies are operating under the public eye and that taxpayer dollars are being spent effectively and properly.

The bill authors issued the following statements on the introduction of the bill:

“Allowing plaintiffs to recoup legal costs when they sue the federal government for reparations they deserve is only fair,” said Rep. Collins. “Many Americans do not have the resources to take on our sprawling bureaucracy, but the EAJA gave them the power to get that money back by removing a barrier to justice for those with limited access to resources. However, since the original reporting requirements were halted by Congress, payments made under the law have skyrocketed. Tracking and reporting payments will help preserve the integrity of this law, and help Congress make sure it is working effectively. Making sure taxpayer dollars are allocated wisely is one of the primary responsibilities of Congress. I also want to thank Congressman Cynthia Lummis for her history of hard work on this issue and her willingness to work with us to move forward this bipartisan legislation.”

“Americans have a right to know what their government is doing, and unless we ensure transparency throughout our judicial system, the rights of our citizens cannot be fully protected,” said Rep. Cohen. “I hope this bipartisan legislation passes, and I look forward to working with Congressman Collins to shine a light on our government’s books.”

Original Co-sponsors of the “Open Book on Equal Access to Justice Act” are Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Rep. Paul Gosar (R- AZ), and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN).