Published on ReadtheBill.org (http://www.readthebill.org)

Star Tribune (Minneapolis): “Due diligence: A smart proposal for Congress” (12/18/04)

“When the 109th Congress convenes next month, an unassuming Washington state Democrat named Brian Baird will submit a modest proposal: Let’s actually read major pieces of legislation before we vote on them.”

Note that this was written in 2004 in support of an earlier Baird initiative to simply enforce the three-day rule.

Excerpts follow (the full article is available online only in the paper’s paid archive):

Star-Tribune (Minneapolis)
Dec. 18, 2004
“Due diligence: A smart proposal for Congress”

When the 109th Congress convenes next month, an unassuming Washington state Democrat named Brian Baird will submit a modest proposal: Let’s actually read major pieces of legislation before we vote on them.

This is not a political prank. It’s a serious proposal that would address one of the most vexing and destructive habits that Congress has developed under its brusque new leadership in the last four years.

[…]

Every member of Congress knows this is a rotten way to make sausage, and in fact House rules require that members get at least three days to read a bill before it comes to a vote. But the House has been waiving that rule with increasing frequency on increasingly important matters.

One result is that boneheaded provisions actually become law before anyone notices. Another is that a small handful of powerful House leaders can write anything they want into a bill and the other 400-some members of the House don’t get to exercise the sort of judgment and oversight that is the very reason voters send them to Washington in the first place.

[…]

[W]e hope the people who represent Minnesota in Congress will represent Baird’s cause.


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