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Cole Discusses His Amendment to Prevent "Pay to Play" in Federal Contracting

June 2, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following remarks on the House floor in support of his amendment to prevent any funds from being used by federal agencies to enforce a proposed executive order requiring that companies applying for federal contracts disclose political contributions. Cole's amendment was considered in conjunction with H.R. 2017, a bill to make appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security.

"Mr. Chairman, in April, a draft executive order was circulated. It would force companies as a condition of applying for a federal contract to disclose all federal campaign contributions.

"In my view, if implemented this executive order would lead to a significant politicization of the federal procurement process. Instead of a company being evaluated and judged on its merits, their past work experience, the ability to complete the government contract in question, this executive order would introduce the potential they would be evaluated politically, as opposed to professionally.

"It's never a good idea, Mr. Chairman, in my view, to mix politics with contracting. My amendment would prevent the president from implementing the proposed disclosure requirements. Congress actually considered something similar to what the president is proposing in the 111th Congress, the so-called DISCLOSE Act. It's instructive to me that that Congress, the majority of which in both houses were controlled by our friends on the other side, decided not to implement such a requirement. Frankly, I think doing so now by executive order is effectively legislating through the executive branch.

"The executive order in question that's being considered would not, in fact, lead to more objectivity in the bidding process, and it could potentially chill the constitutionally protected rights of people to donate politically to whatever candidate, political party or cause they choose to.

"It's worth noting that nothing in this amendment would affect the current federal disclosures under the law. We're not trying to change things. We're not trying to let people do something they can't do now. We're simply trying to make sure that political contributions and political activities never move into the contracting process. "Pay to Play" has no place in the federal contracting process and requiring disclosures of campaign contributions for federal contracts does just that.

"Mr. Chairman, I would respectfully urge that the amendment be adopted, and I yield back the balance of my time."