Congress made little progress on corporate accountability in 2016, according to the newly released Corporate Accountability Coalition (CAC) Congressional Report Card.
Over the past five years, as we have been closely monitoring Congress’s performance on corporate accountability issues, we have seen little progress overall.
“In this time we have seen little significant change in the support for measures to curb corporate power and improve corporate accountability and transparency,” said Marco Simons, General Counsel at EarthRights International, a CAC member. “In fact, in this edition of the Report Card, there were three scored votes in each House of Congress – and on each vote, the anti-accountability position prevailed.”
Almost half of Congress did not earn any points in 2016. Points are earned by co-sponsoring or voting for bills that promote accountability and transparency, and voting against bills that promote corporate power.
There were two bright spots amid this continued lack of action in favor of accountability. First, the Senate passed one pro-accountability measure – the Truth in Settlements Act, which would increase transparency of settlements between the federal government and corporations that have violated the law – by unanimous consent. Unfortunately, the bill did not advance in the House. Second, Congress finally did enact a pro-accountability provision, the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. This law allows the President to impose sanctions on foreign persons, including corporations, that have committed human rights abuses. After being passed by unanimous consent in the Senate, the substance of the bill was included in and enacted as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017.
Also, eight members of Congress earned a perfect score, including Senator Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Senators Warren and Markey (D-Massachusetts), and Senator Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), as well as Congressman Capuano (D-Maryland), Conyers (D-Michigan), Ellison (D-Minnesota), and De Fazio (D-Oregon).
With a new Congress we ask ourselves: what does the future hold for the U.S. government’s approach to corporate power, accountability and transparency? Public data shows that the American people want to curb corporate power. Numerous bills to promote transparency and accountability were introduced in the 114th Congress. We hope that similar bills are introduced in this session—and passed.
This report marks the fifth edition of the Corporate Accountability Coalition Report Card.
About the Report Card
The Corporate Accountability Coalition Report Card represents an attempt to educate the public about Congress’s record in protecting people from the unchecked growth of corporate influence.
The Report Card presents information on whether Members of Congress have supported measures that either strengthen or weaken limits on corporate conduct, regulate or give free reign to corporations when they attempt to go beyond those limits, and hold corporations accountable or provide impunity when they disregard those limits.
The Report Card does not represent an endorsement of any Member of Congress.
About the Corporate Accountability Coalition
The Corporate Accountability Coalition is a collaboration between the Center for Corporate Policy, Corporate Accountability International, CorpWatch, EarthRights International, the Institute for Policy Studies and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable.
EarthRights International (ERI) is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment, which we define as "earth rights." We specialize in fact-finding, legal actions against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, training grassroots and community leaders, and advocacy campaigns, and have offices in Southeast Asia, the United States and Peru. More information on ERI is available at https://www.earthrights.org.