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  • Let Us Read the Bill


    Continuing their fabulous work fighting for transparency in government, The Sunlight Foundation‘s Nancy Watzman has a series of posts up this week asking that Congress afford the American public a mere 72 hours to read legislation before they take it up for consideration. Her first post recounts how terribly President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill violated transparency in government principles:

    When the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a deal on February 11, he said, “Like any negotiation, this involved give-and-take-and if you don’t mind my saying so, that’s an understatement. But the agreement we’ve reached stays faithful to the principles.”

    The problem was many members of Congress had no idea what was in that deal. The day after Reid’s announcement, a copy was still not available for them-or for the public. Talking Points Memo reported, “Reporters who asked for a summary of the agreed-upon deal last night were told to wait, because “policy staff … are drafting final bill language tonight,” according to a House Democratic memo. Aside from a top-line number of $789 billion and a battle over school construction, the nitty-gritty details of the stimulus were publicly unavailable.”

    The bill language was finally made available at around 10:45 p.m. the night of February 12. The next morning, at 11:15 a.m., the House waived a rule requiring that conference report be made publicly available for 48 hours before consideration. A few minutes later, the conference report was brought up for consideration, about 13 hours after it had been made available online.

    At one point, House Minority Leader John Boehner dropped the 1,100-page bill on the floor with a thud, saying, “here we are with 1,100 pages-1,100 pages-not one Member of this body has read. Not one. There may be some staffer over in the Appropriations Committee that read all of this last night-I don’t know how you could read 1,100 pages between midnight and now. Not one Member has read this.”

    Despite the complaints, the House voted that same day largely along party lines to approve the bill, 246 to 183. The Senate followed the same day, passing the legislation by a vote of 60 to 38. President Barack Obama signed the legislation on February 17.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    17 Responses to Let Us Read the Bill

    1. Jim Babka, Ohio says:

      DownsizeDC.org has been presenting the Read the Bills Act for over three years. It was mentioned favorably in Grover Norquist's latest book.

      And it doesn't come in the sunlight only when it's fashionable. DownsizeDC.org has generated nearly 150,000 messages to Congress in support of this bill.

      1) It requires 7 days before the vote, instead of 72 hours.

      2) During those 7 days the bill must be posted online so that watchdog groups like Heritage, talk show hosts, and the general public can read the bill too — during the very time the public is most likely to be interested in the bill.

      3) It requires the bill to be read aloud, word for word, by the clerk, during business, with a quorum present. This should mean fewer and shorter bills passed because there are only so many hours in the day.

      4) It requires the bill to include the language amended, instead of the standard fare, like "strike the word 'the' and replace it 'a' in line 2, subparagraph a, section 5, article C, of USC 123.45"

      5) It applies to bills coming up for review and renewal under sunset.

      6) It's a law with an enforcement mechanism, instead of a mere rule, which can be waived on a vote by vote basis.

      You can check it out at…

    2. Pingback: Laws And Sausages - Redhot - RedState

    3. Jim Wicker, Punxsuta says:

      You guys are all worked up over the wrong issue. Push the eligibility factor. All we have to do is prove he is NOT an American citizen and this house of cards will tumble.

    4. Mike W, Decatur AL says:

      This is absolutely terrible. Those who voted YES on this bill should be raked over the coals for their lack of due-diligence in knowing what they would place upon the citizens of the United States. Now, for many years to come we will all be paying this back. Such a convenient way to move money from one group of people to another … claim that the economy could not function without it. Make it a "need" to do this thing. Interesting, isn't it debt that got us into this crisis in the first place? And now some believe that debt (government … paid back by the people) will get us out.

      Americans learning to save money instead of going into debt to get what they want "now" is what is needed.

    5. Ken Patterson says:

      We have a simplie but complex way to solve all these problems. All of the fiscally responsible States ( flyover country ) should just SECEDE from the union!!!

    6. John , Lake Tahoe NV says:

      I am a slow reader, but I WILL READ the bill! Where can I find it????

    7. rich Weirton, wv says:

      Jim from Pa is right, but go further…indict those who aided and abetted in this crime against the American people.

      Now the so called president is telling us we can spend our way out of trouble. Interesting concept. Let's all spend like there's no tomorrow and everything will be alright????

    8. Joe Ruffino, Merrick says:

      Pillar of Iron, The Republic is dead. Long live the Emperor the rubber stamp Congress and Senate.

    9. K. Short, Kiomatia T says:

      I agree with Jim Wicker – an all out investigation of Obama birth, education, citizenship and personal data should be the focus. We all know what the answer is – Obama is a fraudulent president and everything he is doing is illegal – and he is being allowed to destroy this country. Get to the truth – save us from a disasterous administration full of demonic influence.

    10. John Smith, Elgin, T says:

      Tyrants come to power in times of crisis. It seems a well planned plot is coming to fruition. The inseption of Homeownership as the end-all be-all of the American dream pushing Lenders to loan to unqulified buyer, Fannemae, Freddiemac, subprime lending, CRASH. Manufactured crisis. President Obama talking like a socialist rather than and American…. can it be too far off that we have a push for President for Life? Think about it! The Congress is pushing to establish voting rights and representative status to DC, even though it calls for a Constitutional Amendment to do so. They just want to do it, Constitution be damned. When the former Dean of Senate write a letter of concern to President Obama pointing out that He is oversteping his power in placing Czars in charge of various programs…President for life isn't that big of a stretch.

    11. J St.John says:

      Most of the politicians in Washington are lawyers. If you needed a lawyer because of a breach of contract suit and you approached one of them to take the case and they ask you what did the contract say and you respond "I don't know, I did not read it." He will then tell you how stupid you were for not reading it and how stupid you were for signing it. Only a fool would sign a contract and not know what it said. Are you fools in Washington listening.

    12. Tim AZ says:

      Are these politicians behaving as though they need to be re-elected? If not why? Do they have a plan to rid themselves of the election process? Would this be anymore contemptable than anything they have done so far? The current bill being considered has provisions in it to silence apposing speech on tv and radio through FCC licensing. The internet must be next. I suspect the China model would be a possibility.

    13. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      Mr. Obama promised the American people,"Transparancy in Government." What he didn't expain was that hewould make it so transparent as to become invisable! Yes Roberts Rules of Order state to the effect that each Bill will be read word for word.

      However it also says that the majority can vote to"Strike" the reading-meaning no reading.

      We all will have to endure the next four years and be very watchful, and careful. we have Bill coming up designed to take away certain Constitutional Rights, through foggy wording and requirements, just as was done in Greece in the fifties when the Socialist took over.

      So if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it probably is a duck!


    14. Mike Sheahen, Hickor says:

      Let us read the bill? What, and let it show what is actually in it and how it has practically nothing to do with “stimulating” our economy "now" and practically everything to do with Leftist government elitist "Pork spending" and money and power-grabbing, all of which would drive the overwhelming majority of us to virtually scream an impossible to ignore "No!" against it?

      No wonder Comrade Obama and his Comrades in Congress pulled out all the stops to engage in everything from Leftist government elitist panic-mongering demagoguing and pandering, to Leftist government elitist power-plays (including "waiving" Congressional rules and breaking a Presidential promise to let us have days to read it), all to ram that bill through Congress and sign it into law before enough of us could find out what's actually in it to virtually scream a "NO!" too massive, loud, and impossible for them to ignore without creating yet another problem against themselves from the start!

      After all, if the Socialist Left controlling Congress had not "waived" such as the rule to let it be available to read for days before they voted on it, and if Obama hadn't also broken his own promise to let us all have days to read such legislation before he signed it, then of course both too many Congressman and Senators, and too many of us, the people, would have found out what's actually in that thing and raised a massive and loud enough "NO!" against it to make their passing it and signing it into law anyway a real problem against themselves from the start.

      But of course Comrade Obama and his Comrades in Congress couldn't have that happen, so of course they panic-mongered, power-played, and broke their own rule and promise, all to ram that bill through Congress and sign it into law before enough members of Congress and enough of the people could find out what's actually in it.

      That bill does, after all, have practically nothing to do with "stimulating” our economy “now", and practically everything to do with Leftist government elitist "Pork Barrel Spending" and power-grabbing, as shown by its' contents.

    15. Di, NY says:

      I may point out that many people calmly and decisively voted for Barack Obama. 51% of the country wanted this, and we are trapped in the decisions they have made for us. They also call us 'stupid' for not seeing the Obama light.

    16. Pam, Georgia says:

      All of this seems like a huge abuse of power. Isn't there some legal way to stop this irresponsible travesty? We need to start a grass roots call for a constitutional convention, demand that term limits are placed on the house & congress, repeal the 16th and 17th amendment, enact the Fair Tax and get these radical bums OUT for good! Time to take our country back folks.

    17. R Goosman North Car says:

      Read the bill!! Go to Pelosi's website speaker.house.gov, click on bill text, then Text of the Conference Report Division A. After the PDF loads, search for "gift" to find the following language in reference to the panel to monitor fraud:

      (d) GIFTs.-The Panel may accept, use, and dispose

      of gifts or donations of services or property.

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