Read the BillFebruary 26, 2009 - by Donny Shaw
The Sunlight Foundation is asking Congress to make a common sense change to the way they operate – read the bills before they vote on them.
Readthebill.org is Sunlight’s petition site urging Congress to post all legislation online for at least 72 hours before it comes up for a vote. Seventy-two hours would give members of Congress time to seek changes and improvements to the laws they are making, and give the public the chance to tell their elected officials what they think about the legisation. Bills that are designated “emergency legislation” would not need to be posted for 72 hours, but that would be the exception, not the normal operating procedure.
Recently, rushing bills to the House and Senate floors for quick passage has been the norm. Just yesterday, the House passed the $410 billion Omnibus Appropriations Act only 48 hours after the bill text was first posted online. On February 13, the House voted to approve the final version of the $787 billion economic stimulus package just 13 hours after the text was posted. Both of these bills are more than 1,000 pages long – it’s hard to imagine that anyone is reading these before they are passed.
As a part of the effort, we have put together a custom feed for tracking bills in Congress that have been rushed to a vote. You can see it on the rushed bills page of Readthebill.org and on OpenCongress where you can grab an RSS feed and get update every time a bill is rushed.