Democratic Leader Laughs at Idea That House Members Would Actually Read Health-Care Bill Before Voting On It

July 7, 2009 - 6:50 PM
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D.-Md.) laughed on Tuesday at the idea that members of Congress should pledge to actually read the entirety of a health-care reform bill before voting on it. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D.-Md.) (Congressional photo)

Washington (CNSNews.com) - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that the health-care reform bill now pending in Congress would garner very few votes if lawmakers actually had to read the entire bill before voting on it.

“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.

“Members clearly--and staff and review boards, they read them in their entirety. They go over it with members, and members read substantial portions of the bill themselves, but the issue is--I don’t know who signed this (pledge), but frankly the opposition has been very vociferous, not of the verbiage and bill, but on the concept that it incorporates,” Hoyer said.

Let Freedom Ring, a Delaware-based conservative organization, is circulating a pledge that asks members of Congress  to promise to read the entirety of the final text of a health-care reform bill before they vote on it.  They also are asking that the full bill be made available for review by the public for 72 hours before Congress votes on it.
 
Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, said Hoyer’s comment is evidence that lawmakers in Congress are “off-track.”
 
“It tells the American people how off-track our legislative process has become,” Hanna said. “I think if the framers of our Constitution ever saw an entire legislative body vote on a 1,500-page bill that no one had read, they would shudder--if not go into fits of apoplexy.”
 
Hanna said the pledge to read the full health-care bill--and all future bills--is one way for lawmakers to show that they are not casual in their commitment to constituents.
 
“We think the American public expects their legislators to know what’s in a bill before they support it, and we’re urging legislators to sign a pledge to that effect,” Hanna told CNSNews.com.
 
By signing the “Responsible Health-care Reform Pledge,” lawmakers commit to reading the entire bill and making it available to the public for three days before they cast their votes.
 
The pledge says, “I, (Name inserted here), pledge to my constituents and to the American people that I will not vote to enact any health-care reform package that: 1) I have not read, personally, in its entirety; and, 2) Has not been available, in its entirety, to the American people on the Internet for at least 72 hours, so that they can read it too.”
 
Earlier CNSNews.com stories revealed that few – if any –congressmen read the 1,550-page American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 or the 1,071-page American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 before voting on the bills.