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

Taxpayer Group Co-Founder Launches New Good-Government Effort (1/17/06)

For Immediate Release: January 17, 2006

Contact: Rafael DeGennaro (202) 544-2620 x102


ReadtheBill.org Aims to Require All Bills Online 72 Hours Before Congress Floor Debate

(Washington, D.C.) – Rafael DeGennaro, who worked six years as a Congressional staff member and went on to co-found Taxpayers for Common Sense, announced today the launch of ReadtheBill.org, a new organization advocating all federal legislation be posted online 72 hours before coming to the floor of Congress.

“Too often Congress rushes to rubber stamp 400-page mystery bills, while the public and most legislators remain clueless about their content or cost,” said DeGennaro, who hopes to persuade elected officials, citizens, and other reform groups to join him in the effort. “Seventy-two hours is the bare minimum to defend our democracy.”

ReadtheBill.org proposes requiring the posting of all legislation online – including procedural rules, committee reports and conference reports – at least 72 hours before being brought up on the floor of Congress. Posted text would be searchable, and access would be easy, free and anonymous. Complete substitute amendments, the group says, should be posted at least 24 hours in advance.

“When bills are allowed at least 72 hours in the sunshine, we can harness the collective intelligence of journalists, state and local officials, issue experts, bloggers and curious citizens. They can read the legislation, find any outrages and sound the alarm” DeGennaro said. “Democracy is like eating. Slow down and it’s easier to digest.”

The idea already has support, noted DeGennaro, who points to a January 5 column by New York Times columnist David Brooks, a Republican who said that unscrutinized legislation invites corruption in Congress. Brooks said on ABC News’ This Week on January 8, “To me the best reform they could do is have 72 hours between when a bill is printed and when they vote on it so everybody can look at it.”

DeGennaro, a political independent, insists that both major parties have a stake in passing such a rule. “This reform would protect rank-and-file Republican members of Congress from their leaders’ corruption and bully tactics, and give Democrats time to raise substantive objections.” he said. “Independents like me should support this to keep the whole bunch honest. Any bill that can’t pass 72 hours of scrutiny probably should never pass at all.”

The Patriot Act reauthorization of 2006 will be the first major legislative campaign of ReadtheBill.org, DeGennaro said. “Seventy-two hours of sunshine will make a better Patriot Act.”

DeGennaro is a non-profit entrepreneur who co-founded and led from 1995-2001 Taxpayers for Common Sense, a centrist national anti-government-waste organization. In 1995, he led creation of the Green Scissors coalition that united taxpayer groups and environmentalists to cut environmentally harmful government waste. ReadtheBill.org Civic Action is a 501(c)(4) organization.

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http://www.readthebill.org/newsroom/2006/01/17/read/taxpayer-group-co-founder-launches