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House Republicans Use OpenCongress to Read the Bill!

November 3, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

Here’s a great example of the kind of textually-informed conversations about bills we have been trying to encourage. Republicans in the House of Representatives are extracting chunks of legislative text from the OpenCongress health care bill page (H.R. 3962), giving their take and opening them up for discussion. They’re using OpenCongress’ bill text permalinking tool to refer people back to the specific lines of text in the 1,990 page bill that they’re talking about.

Check it out — House Republicans Read the Bill>>

They’re using a service called Amplify that lets you “clip, share and discuss interesting things you read on the web.” It integrates with Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.

I just set up an account quickly and was able to leave a comment on one of Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ [R, KS-2] posts. Then I was able to easily share the post on Twitter. The whole process is open, transparent and social.

Having the links back to the exact portion of the bill under discussion make it engaging. It’s easy to be disingenuous about legislation by making a false claim and backing it up with a line of text taken out of context. That’s basically how the “death panel” myth was spread over the summer. But providing a link to the specific line within the bill invites people to look it up for themselves, read it in context and make their own judgement.

Anyways, go check it out. They’re putting up several new posts per hour.

Update, Tuesday afternoon: Josh Tauberer at the community site correctly points out that official bill text on OpenCongress comes via GovTrack, so the foundation is made possible by his site. Thanks Josh!

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  • rtmag 11/03/2009 6:49am

    This is really cool. As long as they’re actually reading the bill, I don’t care where or how they do it!

  • stargunner 11/03/2009 4:33pm

    republicans gettin all hip and paperless

  • paustin110 11/04/2009 1:55am

    Oh this is way cool! LOVE this!

  • PeaceVet 11/04/2009 10:34pm

    The part of this that I find disturbing is the “Republicans in the House of Representatives are extracting chunks of legislative text from the OpenCongress health care bill page (H.R. 3962), giving their take and opening them up for discussion.”

    This sounds like an opportunity to only point out part of the bill, and spin only that part into half-truths and lies like the Swift-Boaters did about Kerry, and Palin did with the “Death Panels”. You must be careful when politicians start quoting half-truths and not the whole truth.

  • Comm_reply
    donnyshaw 11/05/2009 7:27am

    Hey PeaceVet, They’re actually extracting parts of the text and linking back to it within the overall bill. So you can follow the links and read the parts of the text in the context of the bill.

  • Comm_reply
    pepesmom 11/06/2009 11:19pm

    to PieceVet Opening up a discussion is exactly what we want. I would love to see an on air TV debate on this bill. I don’t care if it takes weeks. It is so huge and disseminated that it will take weeks just to pull each issue together.

  • pepesmom 11/06/2009 12:56pm

    Right on. This is exactly what this country needs. I hope they do the same thing with the cap and trade abomination. Both parties need to clarify any and all provisions in both bills. We also need a public televised debate before it is passed.
    The job claims were full of lies with ridiculous methods of counting, and unemployment probably at 17.5 percent when counting people who have taken part time jobs or quit looking. The economic growth figures came from the government pouring OUR money into the economy with Cash for Clunkers etc. which allowed some golf carts to be counted and pickup trucks replaced with more trucks with terrible mileage.
    This past year has been insane and we don’t need anymore.
    If Congress wants us to be a 3rd world country just get it over with. The procedures now in force are agony for those of us who remember it being otherwise and fear for the future of our coming generations.
    I’m afraid it may already be too late with no reversal possible.

  • pepesmom 11/06/2009 1:05pm

    P.S. this is exactly what I did with the public option provision in HR3200. I The time I spent jumping back and forth from page to page and section to section taught me that there is no way the people who will be voting on it can possibly read and digest all of the ifs ands and buts in a few days time.

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