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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.

Former Ohio public official blogs ReadtheBill.org

Blogger Maggie Thurber is a former public official from Lucas County, Ohio who gets the ReadtheBill.org 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. …

Terms:

ReadtheBill.org makes top 10 public "Honesty List" (2/17/06)

This blog commends ReadtheBill.org for taking action to fix the problem described by Rep. John Conyers in the film “Farenheit 9/11”

Republican Leader candidates answer "72 hours online" question

In mid-January 2006, Hugh Hewitt put the 72 hours online question to the three candidates for House Majority Leader. The question was prompted by blogger Mark Tapscott of the Heritage Foundation. Also, the question was discussed by the candidates on conference calls with bloggers as compiled at the Truth Laid Bear.

Radley Balko on FoxNews.com: Enthusiasm to pass laws threatens business and liberties (12/4/04)

This good piece from 2004 is worth a read. Balko praises the Washington Post op-ed by Rep. Brian Baird on this subject.

Josh Marshall on TPM: 3 days online may be good reform issue for Dems (11/28/04)

Marshall’s post from late 2004 is undecided. But he points out that this issue raises the question of whether Democrats can “start acting like a true opposition party.”

Julian Sanchez in ReasonOnline: Legislative cooling off period (11/23/04)

This great piece from a libertarian perspective connects Hayek’s “Iron Law of Oligarchy” with the need for a legislative cooling off period. It’s definitely worth reading the whole thing.