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April 12, 2012 - by Donny Shaw

The Republican House leadership of the 112th Congress has shown more of a commitment to opening up the inner workings of Congress than the leaderships of the recent past. They've liberaized the rules on what technologies members can use, improved live video offerings of floor activity, and created a new website for accessing the texts of some bills. But on the essential issue of making the raw data of Congress available to the public in a reliable, timely and systematic fashion, they have come up far short.

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Fixing the 'Read the Bill' Rule

April 19, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

During the midterm campaigns, Republicans promised that if they took over the House they would end the practice of rushing legislation by requiring all bills to be publicly available for 72 hours before they can be voted on. However, when it came time for them to actually set the rules of the House, the 72-hour rule was changed to a three-calendar-day rule, which meant that a bill could be rushed to a vote after as little as 24 hours and 1 minute of public availability. This three-calendar-day rule has already been used three times this session to rush controversial bills to votes without an adequate period of public review.

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As Congress comes back into session this afternoon to find a way to keep the government up and running, one of the cuts on the table will be the $34-million e-government fund, which finances the federal cloud computing initiative, data.gov, and usaspending.gov, among other things. If Congress cares about making federal spending more transparent while creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs and making the federal agencies more efficient, they'll restore funding for e-government and ensure that these programs stay alive.

We're happy to have added the Participatory Politics Foundation to an open letter from the Sunlight Foundation calling on House Republicans put the e-government funding back into the continuing resolution for the rest of the fiscal year. More than anything else the government spends money on, the e-government fund has the potential to improve society in profound and unpredictable ways. And it's relatively cheap -- like I said last week, a full year of e-gov costs just one-third of one day of missile attacks in Libya. If you care about keeping the e-gov fund alive, add your name/organization in the comments here and ask your members of Congress to restore full funding for the e-government fund in the FY 2011 continuing resolution and to make the fund a priority in future budgets.

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Reading the Bill

August 26, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] probably did more to craft the health care bill than just about anybody else in Congress. Still, he's catching flack for saying at a townhall meeting last week in Montana that he never actually read the full thing.

Click through for our take -- it might be a small surprise -- or bop over to our micro-publshing account to see what happened over the weekend.

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