WSJ: Tackling ‘Monster’ Spending Bills (10/30/07)

Readthebill.org is targeting the now common practice of rolling the bills into massive “omnibus” spending measures, in a 50-page report being released this morning entitled “Monsters in Congress: How Republicans and Democrats allowed 13 inherently unreadable omnibus appropriations bills to devour deliberative democracy.”

Wall Street Journal “Tackling ‘Monster’ Spending Bills”
by Susan Davis, October 30, 2007

[…]

Here’s what they found: Congress enacted 14 “omnibus” or “minibus” appropriations bills between 1982-2005, with each containing between 2-13 individual spending bills, and most total over 1,000 pages — 13 “could not possibly have been read by a human being before floor debate in Congress,” the report says. While the House has a rule that conference reports must be available for three days before passage, it’s regularly ignored. When combined, House members had about 65 hours total to read 12,113 pages in the 13 bills. The Senate was slightly better with 126 hours to read the same amount.

The report is timely because Congress is in the same jam this year, with House and Senate Democrats eyeing an omnibus spending package because they have yet to send a spending bill to President Bush. Readthebill.org’s report also includes 70 quotes from House members and senators acknowledging that they had no time to read the bills, including this one from Steny Hoyer, who is now the House Majority Leader. “This clearly is not how our appropriations process should work, with this House rolling nine separate appropriations bills into one and giving the Members just a few hours to review it…It is, I judge, at least two feet tall…an extraordinary document,” he said of the 2005 omnibus approved when Republicans controlled Congress.