MEDIUM (all)

Roll Call: Baird Seeks More Bill Transparency (6/26/07)

A resolution introduced last week by Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) would amend House rules to require that legislation and conference reports be made available online 72 hours before being considered by the chamber.

Despite the obstacles, Democratic leaders should approve Baird’s legislation, said Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation…adding that putting legislation and conference reports online for a few days is “kind of a no-brainer.”

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

PRESS RELEASE: Monsters from Congress — The scariest things you never read

Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Contact: Rafael DeGennaro 202-544-2620
press |at|

Report shows Congress never reads omnibus appropriations bills

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Congress prepares to consider another year-end catch-all spending bill, a new report shows members of Congress never read such bills or know what is in them. Under both Republican and Democratic leadership in recent decades, Congress has passed 1000-page conference reports with only a few hours or even minutes for review.

“These monster spending bills are the scariest things you never read,” said Rafael DeGennaro, a former congressional staff person who directs the organization, which authored the report. “No human reads these thousand-page behemoths before they become the law of the land.”

Smart Money: 10 Things Your Congressman Won’t Tell You (11/06)

In a perfect world, our legislators would vote on each bill based on thorough, firsthand analysis. But that’s not how it works in Washington.

States News Service: Congressman Baird Moves to Strengthen Existing House Rules (6/21/07)

Rep. Brian N. Baird, D-Wash. (3rd CD), issued the following press release:

As a constant advocate for a transparent and open Congress, Rep. Brian Baird (WA-03) today re-introduced legislation with Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), to ensure that members have adequate time to review and read legislation before being brought up for a vote.

Former Ohio public official blogs

Blogger Maggie Thurber is a former public official from Lucas County, Ohio who gets the message. She was especially moved by our collection of quotes from members of Congress themselves saying none of them had read the bill.

Their most recent initiative, supported by numerous groups including the National Taxpayers Union and Common Cause, is to have legislation posted online 72 hours prior to any debate in Congress. …


The Olympian (Olympia, WA): Political gaming is getting old (9/8/2006)

“The political high jinks of last week once again points to the need for what Baird is calling a ’72 Hour’ bill”

Oregonian: Baird seeks more open Congress (4/23/07)

Rep. Baird says House Democrats are doing better in practive giving time to read bills, and are unlikely to embrace stronger rules. Rafael DeGennaro of says House Democrats are giving more time to read than did the previous House Republican majority, but that there are still problems and the Democrats may slip into bad habits.

Columbian (Vancouver, WA): "72 Hours Needed" (1/10/07)

“Because members of Congress spend billions of dollars and affect the lives of millions of Americans, they should have at least 72 hours to read bills, and the bills should be posted online for all the public to see.”

Washington Times: "Sunlight reforms for Congress" (1/8/07)

“The solution is simple: All bills …, with their sponsors identified, should be posted online at least 72 hours before the vote. Then all members, and the press and interested citizens, could read the bill and know who sponsored it before it’s too late.”