New Push Wednesday to Post House Bills Online Before Lawmakers Vote on Them
September 23, 2009 - 10:54 AMA Democrat has joined a Republican in trying to force action on a bill that would require the House to post the text of major bills online 72 hours before voting on them.
The idea is to give Americans time to read legislation that may affect their lives and wallets.
In June, Reps. John Culberson (R-Texas) and Brian Baird (D-Wash.) introduced a resolution requiring the text of major bills to be posted online for at least 72 hours before they come up for a vote.
On Wednesday, Culberson, Baird and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) filed a discharge petition, a process used to force a bill out of committee. If the petition is signed by at least 218 House members, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be required to schedule the resolution for an up-or-down vote on the House floor.
“It’s just common sense: the American people should be given time to read major bills before they come to a vote in Congress,” House Republican leader John Boehner said in a blog posting on Wednesday.
Boehner said he has signed the discharge petition and he is urging his fellow lawmakers from both parties to do the same. According to Boehner’s office, this is the first time a Democrat has signaled that he would sign a discharge petition since the Democrats took charge of the House.
Boehner noted that previous Congresses, including those led by Republicans, have failed to give the American public time to read major bills before they are voted on. But he said the situation has been particularly “acute” over the past nine months:
“A pork-laden ‘stimulus’ spending bill, a debt-laden budget, a job-killing national energy tax and other bills have been rammed through the House by Speaker Nancy Pelosi without even allowing the American people to know what’s in the bills,” Boehner said.
“The collective cost has been astronomical, both in terms of the debt piled on our children and grandchildren and the astonishing amount of special-interest giveaways tucked inside.”
Baird and Culberson’s bill, H. Res. 554, would amend the Rules of the House of Representatives to require that non-emergency legislation and conference reports be available on the Internet for 72 hours before consideration.
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) says the bill would bring transparency to the legislative process.
"Members of Congress should read every major piece of legislation before casting their vote," Pence said in a news release. "Congress and the American people deserve three days to read the bills. This discharge petition is a critical step in the right direction."
Pence noted that the Americans public and House Republicans were not given time to read the Democrats' "flawed stimulus bill" before it passed earlier this year.
"The American people are losing confidence in the work of their elected leaders as bills running longer than a thousand pages are rushed to the president’s desk without an opportunity for Members to learn what they are voting on. We have a responsibility to do better,” Pence said.