Case Studies

Why should we read the bills? Because when Congress rushes to pass complex legislation, the bills are not properly vetted. With more time to examine the legislation, the public can help ferret out wasteful spending, sneaky provisions that were inserted by well-connected special interests and other problematic provisions.

Here’s where you can dig in and get the details about recent examples of Congress rushing through legislation. They are listed in reverse order chronologically. We’ll continue to add new case studies as they happen.

  • Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (H.R. 4577)

    This 262 page financial deregulation bill was placed into an 11,000 page conference report made available four minutes before consideration began in Congress. The bill would later be seen as giving rise to the large amount of risky behavior in the financial sector, ultimately leading to the global financial meltdown of September 2008.
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

    Better known as the “stimulus” bill, this $789 billion, 1,100-page behemoth meant to create jobs and jump start the ailing economy was available for public perusal for just about 13 hours before Congress began considering it.
  • Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008

    The first time the House considered the $700 billion bailout bill to rescue Wall Street, in September 2008, many complained about the rush and voted it down. But just a few days later, the Senate revived a revised bill. The same day, both the Senate and the House approved it.
  • Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, And Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009

    Under pressure because the fiscal year was drawing near the end and none of the appropriations bills had been completed, Congress rushed through a continuing resolution that extended government funding at 2008 levels through March 2009.
  • Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac got a bailout in this quick moving legislation approved in July 2008.
  • Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008

    After just two hours of debate, the House passed this bill, which loosened requirements for the government to set up surveillance of individuals and granted immunity to telecommunications companies for wiretapping.
  • Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007

    This little noticed legislation hurried through by Congress sets safety standards for reviews of drugs and medical devices. Consumer advocates criticized the legislation for being too weak—and since the law’s passage, numerous instances have surfaced of problems with medical devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • USA PATRIOT Act of 2001

    Passed in a rush after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, this law expanded the federal government’s ability to gather intelligence, engage in domestic surveillance and secret searches and detain immigrants with little restraint.

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