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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 [1] of the Heritage Foundation. Also, the question was discussed by the candidates on conference calls with bloggers as compiled at the Truth Laid Bear [2].

Rep. Shadegg gave a strong yes, but then qualified it by saying it might need to be suspended at the end of the session. (But that’s when the worst abuses occur!)

Rep. Boehner indicated support for having the members and staff read the legislation, but did not explicitly support putting it online. He also questioned the practicality of the idea.

Rep. Blunt gave a very squishy answer.

Below are excerpts from Hugh Hewitt’s radio show blog Radio Blogger [3].

Monday, January 16
Arizona Congressman John Shadegg is the first of the three House leadership candidates to answer the hard questions.

HH: Would you support, again a Tapscott question, a proposal to require legislation to be posted on the internet, say 72 hours prior to a vote, so that the American public can see what’s in there?

JS: Absolutely, absent, I supposed, the closing days of the session, where you might have to have a limited exemption to that. We have a rule that we waive all the time, that requires a 3-day holdover period before a measure can be voted upon. And it is when…quite frankly, when we waive that rule to try to get out of town at the end, when we have seen some of the worst abuses of that. But we don’t just waive it at the end of the session, we waive it all the time. So I believe that there should be the greatest amount of sunshine possible in this process, and I want to make the point, Hugh. When I got elected in 1994 as a part of the revolutionary class of 1994, we based our campaign on two things: one, we were going to shrink the size and scope of government. We were going to reduce spending, we were going to cut taxes. We were going to decrease regulation. We were going to increase local responsibility. We were going to increase individual responsibility, and individual freedom, and of course, keep a strong national defense. But there was a second plank in that promise, and that was to clean up the backroom deals, to stop the ability of members to sneak language in, in the middle of the night, or to use their position of power to try to benefit themselves or their cronies. And the scandals of late, particularly the Cunningham scandal, demonstrates that we’ve failed in that. It’s not just bad actors. We have procedures that those bad actors can take advantage of.

Wednesday, January 18
Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt answers the hard questions.

HH: How about pre-publication, 72 hours before a vote, on the internet, of the text of a bill?

RB: You know, looking at the conference reports, we may have to think about the realities of that when we get near the end of the session, with some waive ability if there is a real crisis. I don’t have any…I think the more information we have out there earlier, frankly, the easier it is for the whip to do their job, and that’s the job I’ve had for the last several years, or the leader to do his or her job. And that’s the job I’ve had for the last hundred days or so.

Tuesday, January 17
Ohio Congressman John Boehner answers the hard questions in his campaign for House majority leader.

HH: Interesting. How about the idea of posting proposed legislation 72 hours prior to a vote on the internet, so that the American public can see what’s in there.

JB: I think that’s a good goal. Sometimes it’s not practical, given the schedule that we have. But there ought to be at least…we ought to shoot for 72 hours, and make sure everybody knows what’s in there. But there ought to be a minimum requirement of 24 hours on an emergency basis.


Excerpt from Truth Laid Bear [4] interview with Boehner. This was a conference call with bloggers on Jan. 19, 2006.

N.Z. Bear: Congressman, this is N.Z. from The Truth Laid Bear. You mentioned on Hugh Hewitt’s show that I believe you said you’d support a regulation to require legislation being posted on the internet and you also mentioned that you were rushed into the review of the immigration reform. Would you support a rules change that would require all members to sign a statement that they’ve actually read legislation before they vote on it?

Rep. John A. Boehner: I think that members need to do a better job of reviewing legislation. And understand that even if you required members to read all bills, I don’t know if it would help much, because when you try to read these bills when they refer to this section of existing law and that section of existing law, I’m not sure that you learn a whole lot. So requiring them to actually read it, I just don’t think it’s practical. But I do believe this, that if as a general rule we would require that bills sit for 72 hours after they come out of conference, members and their staff would have ample time to review those bills and I think that would help us greatly. And I say as a general rule because I’m going to be very clear, those of you that know a little bit about me, I like to say it the way it is and I mean what I say and I say what I mean. There are times when that just isn’t practical. You know you can have an emergency spending bill, you can have some of the issues that happened after 9/11, and having a 70, requiring a bill to sit there for 72 hours, is just not practical. But at a minimum, at a minimum even in those circumstances, members ought to have 24 hours to review a bill in an emergency situation.

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