Should Congress Go Paperless?March 8, 2010 - by Donny Shaw
Currently, when a bill is introduced into Congress, the Government Printing Office (GPO) automatically prints five copies of the entire text for the office of each co-sponsor. That means that for H.R. 3962, the House’s health care bill, which is 2,070 pages long and has 7 total sponsors, the GPO printed out a total of 72,450 pages. That’s 151 reams.
The STOP the Overprinting Act would only allow bills to be printed by the GPO if they are specifically requested by a member of Congress or a committee. According to Lee, “the Congressional Research Service estimates the potential cost savings of Lee’s legislation would be upwards of $2.2 million in 2010 alone.” Every bill is already made available to members of Congress and the public on the internet. Sites like OpenCongress, Thomas and GovTrack post them, as does the GPO itself through their GPO Access website. For lawmakers who find paper copies of bills easier to read and digest, Lee’s bill would accommodate them.
Presumably, since this isn’t law yet, 5 copies of the “STOP the OverPrinting Act” were printed up by the GPO and distributed to each of its 40 sponsors. But it’s a short bill — only 3 pages long — so it only amounted to 600 pages, or one and a quarter reams.
Image used under CC license from pawpaw67.