The House of Representatives passed H.R. 2551, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2012 on Friday with a vote of 252 – 159. As was stated in a previous post, this bill will make large cuts to the Government Printing Office (GPO). Unamended, the bill would have lowered the GPO’s budget about 16.3 percent below the FY2011 level. However, many amendments were passed, and the final version further lowered the budget to a total of 20 percent below the previous year.
- H.AMDT.704 – An amendment to reduce the GPO funding by $4,946,140.80 by transferring $3,414,150.29 from GPO, Congressional Printing and Binding and $1,531,990.51 from GPO, Office of Superintendent of Documents, to the spending reduction account.
- H.AMDT.705 – An amendment to prevent the distribution of printed legislation to Member offices unless a Member requests the legislation.
- H.AMDT.706 – An amendment to prevent use of funds to distribute printed copies of the Congressional Record to Member offices.
The bill not only lowers GPO’s appropriations, but it tasks the Government Accountability Office with conducting a study “to review the feasibility of Executive Branch printing being performed by the General Services Administration, the transfer of the Superintendent of Documents program to the Library of Congress, and the privatization of the GPO … [and] report its findings to the Committee on Appropriations of the House and Senate no later than January 31, 2012.” In the letter that the American Library Association sent to the House Appropriations Committee, we requested “that the library community be involved in this study, as a report that speaks to the future of the GPO and the Superintendent of Documents program is of vital interest to the library community and to public access to government documents.”
H.R. 2551 has now been sent to the Senate, and we are hopeful that the GPO will fare better there when the Senate begins concentrating on appropriations after the August recess. Please take this time to contact your senators and let them know of the importance of the GPO and its relationship with the Federal Depository Library Program and public access to government information.