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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 GovTrack.us 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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