Mystery bills — exact criteria

A bill is a “mystery bill” unless it meets the following criteria:

The legislation/conference report and all accompanying reports are posted on the Internet for 72 hours, not including weekends or federal holidays (except when Congress is in session on those days). This means the 72 hour clock stops at 11:59 pm on Friday night and starts again at 12:01 am on Monday. Example: A bill that becomes available on the Internet at noon on Friday would have been available for 72 hours at noon the following Wednesday.

The 72 hour clock starts when the all bill documents are available online, not when the bill is filed. There can be a delay of many hours before a “filed” report is available online. Example: A committee report is formally “filed” at 3:11 pm on Friday but does not become available online until sometime during the weekend. The 72 hour clock would start early Monday.

The documents posted online should include the full, final text of either:
*the legislation and all committee reports; or
*the conference report and the signed statement of managers.

In the House, excluded are the exact items excluded in the “three-day rule” in Rule XIII of the Standing Rules of the House of Representatives. These exclusions include Declarations of War, House procedural rules for the consideration of legislation, etc. As under the current three-day rule in the House, all conference reports are covered by the 72 hour rule.

Especially with long documents, ReadtheBill.org strongly prefers that the documents be available in a format that is searchable by text.


(Note: These are the criteria as announced on May 23, 2006. ReadtheBill.org may make minor revisions in these criteria based on lessons learned and input received.)