John Bolton

John Bolton

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Democrats Fighting "Read the Bill" Reforms

What do they have to hide? Plenty!

House Republicans are leading the fight to force congress to put the text of major legislation online for 72 hours before a vote takes place. Here's the latest from Republican Leader John Boehner (OH):

In the latest Rasmussen poll on this subject 83% of Americans agree that bills should be posted online and across the country in Town Hall meetings citizens have spoken directly to their representatives demanding that they "READ THE BILL" before voting on it.

House Resolution 554 text) would require bills to be posted for 72 hours before a vote. Yet Democrats in the leadership have refused to bring the measure to a vote. In an effort to override that block, Republicans are circulating a petition to force a vote. Only 36 more signatures are required. Here's the list of those who have already signed. Is your representative not on the list? If so, call their office immediately and tell them you want them to sign this petition and to vote YES on H.R. 554. Also, tell them you expect them to READ THE BILL before voting.

What Do Democrats Say About "Read the Bill?"

From House Republican Leader John Boehner:


1. ‘We don’t do things that way.’ Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), addressing attempts by Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee to ensure lawmakers and the public have 72 hours to review health care legislation: “We have never, ever, ever, ever done that in this committee.” (Politico, 9/24/09)

2. ‘Saying we can’t change the bill at the last minute means we can’t, you know, actually change the bill at the last minute.’ “What if only one short word or amendment is made?” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) asked last week. “It’s one thing initially for a bill to have a long time, but if you come out of a conference and they don’t change anything then, you don’t need 72 hours.” (The Hill, 10/2/09)

3. ‘Nobody actually reads the bills.’ This rates as the most common reason. For instance, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said last month during a Senate Finance Committee hearing, “I mean, let’s be honest about it. The legislative language, everybody knows, is relatively arcane, legalistic, and most people don’t read the legislative language.” Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) recently added: “I don’t expect to actually read the legislative language because reading the legislative language is among the more confusing things I’ve ever read in my life. … It’s just anyone who says that they can do that and actually get much out of it is trying to pull the wool over our eyes.” (Politico, 9/23/09; New York Post, 10/4/09)


1. “Stimulus bill a sorry spectacle. What a joke. Your Congress has voted to spend almost $790 billion of your money on a stimulus package that not a single member of either chamber has read. The 1,073-page document wasn’t posted on the government’s website until after 10 p.m. the day before the vote to pass it was taken.” (Jack Cafferty,, 2/17/09)

2. “Energy bill a travesty containing who knows what. The cap-and-trade bill passed the House of Representatives shrouded in a fog of willful ignorance and calculated irrationality. No one could be sure what he was voting for -- not after a 300-page amendment added at 3:09 a.m. the day of its passage. The bill is so complex and jerry-built that even its supporters can’t know how, or if, it will work. And it’s impossible for someone to know whether the motivating crisis, impending planetary doom, will ever materialize.” (Rich Lowry, Salt Lake Tribune, 6/30/09)

3. Organizational Chart of the House Democrats’ Health Plan, which depicts the bureaucratic nightmare that is the House Democrats’ costly government-run health care proposal. The chart was produced by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and the Republican staff of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC).

Why Do Democrats Have So Little Time to "READ THE BILL?"

It's certainly not because they are overworked:

House: Working hard or hardly working?

Like most Americans, members of the House are expected to report promptly — no excuses — when summoned by their bosses for the start of another workweek. One difference: For lawmakers, starting time doesn’t come until about 6:30 Tuesday evening.

After taking control of the House in 2006 — and again when President Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 — Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) boasted that lawmakers would work four or five days a week to bring change to America.

But midway through Obama’s first year in office, Hoyer’s House has settled into a more leisurely routine. Members usually arrive for the first vote of the week as the sun sets on Tuesdays, and they’re usually headed back home before it goes down again on Thursdays.

Since the House returned for its fall session on Sept. 8, it has stuck around to vote on a Friday just once: to approve a 5.8 percent increase in Congress’s own budget.
In December 2006, as he prepared to take the reins as majority leader, Hoyer said lawmakers should expect to be on duty in the House from 6:30 p.m. on Mondays to around 2 p.m. on Fridays.

When Hoyer released his 2009 legislative calendar last December, he said: “The American people voted decisively for change this November, and we will work hard to make that change a reality.”
There is a bright side to Democrat's laziness:

But while some GOP lawmakers grumbled in 2006 when Hoyer first talked of a five-day-a-week schedule, at least one was willing to look at the bright side Tuesday.

“Two and a half days a week is plenty of time to consider the ideas coming out of this Democrat-led House,” said Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “Imagine the damage they could do with five-day workweeks.”

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