News

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)

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.

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Contact: Rafael DeGennaro 202-544-2620
press |at| readthebill.org

MONSTERS FROM CONGRESS
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 ReadtheBill.org, 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.

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 Readthebill.org 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.

Oregonian: Baird asks colleagues to actually read bills (12/18/06)

Rep. Baird leads in getting his colleagues to confront this problem. Democrats unclear what they will propose. Taxpayers for Common Sense speaks up strongly for 72 hours, not 24. ReadtheBill.org emphasizes how bad recent Republican practice was.

The Olympian (Olympia, WA): Baird re-elected, talks about his 72 hours reform (11/8/06)

On the day of his re-election, Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) talked about his 72 hours online reform. He said the Democratic takeover should help this reform win support.

Cox News Service: "Legislation Would Require Bills To Be Posted Online 72 Hours Before Consideration" (9/13/06)

“Members of Congress should read the legislation they consider, figures Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash. ‘We owe it both to our constituents and this institution to know what we are voting for or against.’

“Well, duh.”

Terms:

"Groups join Baird’s effort to post bills online" (Daily News; Longview, WA) (3/16/06)

“ReadtheBill.org founder Rafael DeGennaro said he hoped 1,000 organizations of all kinds will endorse the proposal by July 4.”

CNN Situation Room features ReadtheBill.org (3/1/06)

CNN’s Situation Room’s Jacki Schechner featured ReadtheBill.org and Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) in a nice short piece. Here’s a link to play it on Baird’s website (media player needed).

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