Bloggers Will Join Bush in Bill-Signing Ceremony; Pressed Congress for Spending Database

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

President Bush has invited bloggers to join him today as he signs into law a bill creating a database of federal spending a recognition of their role in forcing the bill through Congress over the objections of senior senators and an indication of how much bloggers are changing the political process.

A coalition of bloggers from the left and the right last month did what the Senate's Republican leadership could not: smoke out obstructing senators, bring public pressure to break their hold and move the bill to the Senate floor, where it passed by a voice vote.

"The bloggers mobilized Congress; Congress did not mobilize bloggers," said John Hart, spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who teamed with Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, to support the bill.

"It really does represent a revival of basic democratic values: that active citizens using tools of technology really can steer the political process," Mr. Hart said. "And what happened was profoundly subversive to the established political order."

The legislation will establish a searchable database of all federal contracts and grants, and most other spending.

The Bush administration supported the database as a way to improve transparency and accountability, but senior senators from both parties blocked the bill through a "secret hold," a parliamentary tradition that allows a single senator to obstruct legislation.

Bloggers mounted a drive to identify the obstructors, asking readers to call their senators and demand to know whether they were the culprits. The obstructors eventually acknowledged their role and relented.

One administration official called the bill the "'Blair Witch Project' version of legislation" because support grew by word of mouth through blogs.

Bill-signing ceremonies give the president, lawmakers and key interest groups a chance to proclaim victory. …