posting legislation BEFORE passing it

makecongressread2.jpg

This isn’t a new idea, but I started thinking about it after I heard a commentator on some political show mention that people wouldn’t know what was in some legislation until after it got passed. What about the idea that congress should post the text of a bill BEFORE it comes up to a vote. Once a bill has been typeset, it is pretty much simplicity itself for the congressional printing office to also put up a copy on-line for the American people to review it. I love this idea. It would give the chance for a million eyes to find the loopholes and pork. It is impossible for a small congressional staff to read one of these 7,000 page bills and really get all the nuances in the short time between when they get the bill on paper and when the congressperson has to vote. It would also help eliminate some of the stupid crap that gets passed into law because it would give the American people to call BS beforehand.

Downsize DC has even posted the draft test of the “Read the Bills Act” and is collecting signatures.

One Reply to “posting legislation BEFORE passing it”

  1. Actually, both houses of Congress post bill drafts online at the beginning of the legislative session and whenever new bills are introduced. (See the link above, and scroll down. Click on the bill search links within and you’ll be taken to Thomas.com.)

    How else do you think we journalists on the political beat are able to report on new legislation the day it’s introduced? You can even get a verbatim account of the debate the day after it happens by reading the transcripts of everything in the Congressional Record.

    The real issue is that the legislators claim not to have enough time to read all of these bills because of the sheer volume of text. That’s precisely why your pal Brian is so busy — he likely reads more of the bill drafts than his bosses do.

    As a matter of fact, most legislators don’t even write their own bills. They have a third party counsel do the drafting; perhaps Brian does some of this.

    I continue to observe a big gap between the way the lawmakers speak — eloquently — and the nearly inscrutable legalese that winds up becoming law. If the legislators wrote their own laws, everything would be much simpler, to the point that maybe we wouldn’t even need tort reform.

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