When he was asked if the Congressmen would be actually reading the health care bill before they voted on it, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had an unusual response:
If every member pledged to not vote for it if they hadn’t read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes,” Hoyer told CNSNews.com at his regular weekly news conference.
Hoyer was responding to a question from CNSNews.com on whether he supported a pledge that asks members of the Congress to read the entire bill before voting on it and also make the full text of the bill available to the public for 72 hours before a vote.
In fact, Hoyer found the idea of the pledge humorous, laughing as he responded to the question. “I’m laughing because a) I don’t know how long this bill is going to be, but it’s going to be a very long bill,” he said.
I think Thomas Jefferson would probably punch this boob right in his smug face. Is this really the best we can do?
Hardly. In fact, there is something the Republicans could do that would be a win-win. They could get every Republican member of Congress, all the Congressmen and all the Senators, to support the Read the Bills Act. Created by Downsize DC, here’s what it does according to their website:
- Each bill, and every amendment, must be read in its entirety before a quorum in both the House and Senate.
- Every member of the House and Senate must sign a sworn affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that he or she has attentively either personally read, or heard read, the complete bill to be voted on.
- Every old law coming up for renewal under the sunset provisions must also be read according to the same rules that apply to new bills.
- Every bill to be voted on must be published on the Internet at least 7 days before a vote, and Congress must give public notice of the date when a vote will be held on that bill.
- Passage of a bill that does not abide by these provisions will render the measure null and void, and establish grounds for the law to be challenged in court.
- Congress cannot waive these requirements.
Honestly, this isn’t too much to ask, is it? That the people voting on the bill actually understand what they are voting on beforehand.
Here’s where the win-win comes in. The American people are tired of these things going through without anyone reading them. If the Republicans were to make this issue their baby, they would be supported by the people. The Democrats would take a serious hit opposing this.
So the Republicans get a little bit of credibility back in the limited government arena while the Democrats take heat from the people.
Plus, if they are actually successful, we the people get better government:
The effects of these provisions will be profound . . .
- Congress will have to slow down. This means the pace of government growth will also slow.
- Bills will shrink, be less complicated, and contain fewer subjects, so that Congress will be able to endure hearing them read.
- Fewer bad proposals will be passed due to “log-rolling.”
- No more secret clauses will be inserted into bills at the last moment.
- Government should shrink as old laws reach their sunset date, and have to be read for the first time before they can be renewed.
If they had any sense, the GOP would be all over this. So, based on what I have seen recently, don’t count on it. Still, maybe a phone call is in order to your favorite Republican. Tell them about the Read the Bills Act. Maybe someone will see the potential and act on it.
Props to Jason over at Jason A. Clark.com for recognizing the importance of this bill and writing his own fantastic post about it.