by Michael J. Shapiro | March 21, 2013

The U.S. Senate dropped an amendment yesterday from its stopgap spending bill that would have significantly limited conference attendance by federal employees. The amendment, sponsored by Republican Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, sought to prohibit any federal agency from sending more than 25 employees to any meeting or conference in the United States. Coburn was seeking to curb the wasteful spending of various agencies, such as the well-publicized overspending of the General Services Administration last year at a recognition event. ASAE, The Center for Association Leadership, delivered a sign-on letter to Senate offices on Monday, signaling opposition to the amendment from more than 350 organizations in 39 states. "ASAE and the association community fully support the intent of Congress to induce greater transparency and accountability in government spending," the letter read. "However, while the amendment is intended to limit spending on government-sponsored conferences and travel expenses for federal employees, the net result would be fewer opportunities to learn and exchange information with the private sector. The dialog that takes place at these meetings between government and the private sector is essential to the development of informed policymaking that facilitates economic growth and job creation." The Coburn amendment was among a list of 99 amendments that had to be significantly pared down before the Senate passed the continuing resolution spending bill, which funds the government through the end of fiscal year 2013. The Senate passed the bill on March 20 and sent it on to the House, which approved the bill on Thursday, March 21.