DATA Act, Reconciliation and Veto?

The two chambers of Congress have each passed a version of the DATA Act, S. 994 and HR. 2061. In the normal legislative process, these must be reconciled, the reconciled bill approved, and that bill passed to the President for signature. How far will the DATA Act go?

Each version of the bill has some differences in the core of the bill related to the purpose of creating greater transparency in federal financial reporting, as well as amendments that really have nothing to do with the core. That is very typical of how bills are written.

One core difference is how constrained the choice of data standard would be. HR 2061 contains a clause restricting the choice of standard to one that exists at the time of passage of the bill. S 994 does not have this constraint.

The House version contains an amendment that limits agency travel expenses for the next 4 years to 70% of 2010 levels. The Senate version includes an amendment aimed at improving federal debt collection by reducing the delinquency period from 180 to 120 days before trying to recover a debt through administrative offset.

My personal take is that the core differences will be reconciled and don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. The additional House clause on data standards would make it very difficult for another standard besides XBRL to be considered, and other clauses in both versions of the bill show that it is written with XBRL in mind.

However, the House amendment on travel expenses is just Darrel Issa trying to poke the Obama Administration with a sharp stick. Leaving that amendment in the final bill makes it very easy to earn a veto.

If the Congress really wants the DATA Act this year, an election year, they should drop the House amendment, IMHO.


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