Senate reforms–other

Senate 48-hour availability requirement becomes law

On September 14, 2007, President Bush signed into law S. 1 (Public Law No: 110-81), the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007.
Section 511(b) is the “Public Availability Amendment”. It amends Rule XXVIII of the Standing Rules of the Senate to require that conference reports may not be voted on for 48 hours until after being made publicly available via government website. The requirement can be waived by a 3/5 vote of all senators.

Sen. Cornyn files amendment #27 to S. 1

By Rafael DeGennaro, January 11, 2007 – 2:28pm.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) spoke on the Senate floor around noon today, Thur., Jan. 11 on his new amendment #27 to S. 1. ReadtheBill.org endorses (letter in PDF format) the substance of this amendment, which would prohibit floor consideration of legislation and conference reports before senators and the public had more time to read them. If implemented in Senate rules, this Cornyn amendment would be a significant improvement over current Senate rules, and over Senate practice during the 109th Congress.

As proposed, S. 1 would amend Senate rule XXVIII to prohibit consideration of conference reports before they have been publicly available online for 48 hours. S. 1 would improve on current Senate rules. However, S. 1 would NOT cover legislative measures or matters on their first consideration by the Senate (as opposed to final conference reports). This is a major failing of S. 1. It’s crucial to find and fix questionable provisions early in the legislative process. By the time a bill emerges from conference committee in its final form, it can be too late to fix even its worst provisions.

Disappointing Senate Dem reform package S. 2180: Post conference reports online 24 hours

Senate Democrats introduced a major lobbying and congressional reform package on Jan. 20, 2006. The bill embodies other worthy reforms, and also contains language requiring posting conference reports online for 24 hours. ReadtheBill.org believes that this language is too weak.