Congressman Walden renews push for ‘Read the Bill’ law

Taxpayers want lawmakers to understand legislation before voting on it
By Congressman Greg Walden

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the day Gallup reported that the American people’s confidence in Congress has fallen to a record low, House Republicans launched a renewed push to highlight and enact “read the bill” reforms demanded by the American people.“Everywhere I go, taxpayers want to know why they don’t give Congress and the public enough time to read and understand these enormously costly bills, ” U.S. Rep. Greg Walden said. “This is a no-brainer. It’s time to let the sun shine in and change how the House operates.” House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has posted on America Speaking Out an idea that Rep. Walden a bipartisan coalition of members have been promoting to prohibit the House from considering any bill that has not been publicly available via the Internet for three days. This is the first idea Leader Boehner has posted on America Speaking Out, which was launched by House Republicans in May to engage the American people in building a more responsive government and a better country. “One of the reasons why Americans have such little confidence in Congress is because of the practice of rushing massive, expensive bills to a vote without giving lawmakers or the American people time to read them,” Boehner said. “This is the people’s House: ‘read the bill’ should not be just an afterthought – it should be the first and only thought.”

“Read the bill” reform is the first plank of the transparency initiative House Republicans released last fall. In September, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) filed a discharge petition to force a floor vote on bipartisan three-day public review legislation authored by Reps. John Culberson (R-TX) and Brian Baird (D-WA). To date, the petition has garnered 182 signatures – including five rank-and-file Democrats — 36 short of the 218 needed to secure a vote on the floor. Leader Boehner, a co-sponsor of the Culberson-Baird measure, has pledged that Republicans would implement “read the bill” reform should they earn back the majority.

“At a time when record high spending bills are passing the House, this resolution would give Members of Congress and the American public a chance to read legislation before a vote,” said Culberson. “This resolution will enhance public participation in our democracy and help restore the public trust in government by raising the level of transparency, order, and discourse.

NOTE: Americans are fed up with Congress passing bills no one has read. Speaker Pelosi and Democratic leaders have rushed hugely consequential and expensive legislation through the House without giving the American people time to review the measures. Here are just five high-profile examples:

• Trillion-Dollar ‘Stimulus.’ In one of the most infamous displays of brazen partisanship, Democratic leaders posted the text of their ‘stimulus’ bill in the dark of night well past midnight only to turn around and force members to vote on it less than 12 hours after it was made public.

• ‘Cap-and-Trade’ National Energy Tax. House Democrats passed a national energy tax bill loaded with special-interest giveaways no one had discovered because a 300-page, never-before-seen amendment to their already massive 1,200-page bill was unveiled at 3am the day of the vote.

• $500 Billion Omnibus Spending Bill. When trying to beat a path out of Washington last December, Democratic leaders rushed a 2,500-page, half trillion omnibus spending bill to the floor with less than 24 hours notice and just an hour of debate.

• DISCLOSE Act. At the last minute, Democratic leaders produced a new 46-page manager’s amendment to their 84-page campaign bill that was chock full of backroom deals and carve outs for special interest groups.

• SCHIP. The Democrats brought their flawed State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill – which shortchanged low-income children and expanded coverage to illegal immigrants and adults – to the House floor for a vote less than 24 hours after it had been unveiled.

Representative Greg Walden is the House Republican Leadership Chairman and represents Oregon’s Second Congressional District, which is comprised of 20 counties in eastern, southern, and central Oregon.

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  • Rupert in Springfield

    So essentially this is a push to enact into law that which Obama promised during the campaign. Therefore who could have issue with this?

    When merely illuminating the legislation being passed is a most effective campaign tool for the party out of power that is an astonishing situation. When the party in power fears full knowledge of their actions and takes proactive steps to hide what they are doing, such as the 3AM release of bills, that speaks volumes.

    Governance is many things. What it is not is passing convoluted bills where even the supporters have the attitude that they won’t really know how it will shake out until it is enacted. That’s what we have now and the American people have spoken loud and clear on its unacceptability.

    This is a good and constructive measure. When an administration runs on the promise of transparency, and turns into the most secretive White House in American history, it is also much needed.

    • Ron Marquez

      What say you, valley p ??

      • valley p

        I start with the historical fact that Republicans controlled Congress for 12 years and never bothered to propose this legislation, which suggests it is nothing more than mischief making.

        I’ll add that it is less important that each legislator “read the bill” cover to index than it is that they understand what they are voting on. For this they have staff.

        I think Walden’s list of bill complaints is a tell. Is the public upset that the stimulus bill was “rushed?” No way. They may be upset that it did not stimulate enough, but delaying its passage would not have helped a bit. Taking a year to pass a health care bill certainly did not help increase the popularity of that one. Cap and Trade has not passed the Senate, so what happened in the House is moot. And the omnibus spending bill just keeps operations going. I doubt there are 1000 Americans who care about “Omnibus.” But there are a lot who care about various government programs being funded.

        And I’m sure most Americans are against funding health care for kids. Right.

        Bottom line, I don’t think lack of confidence in congress has anything to do with how closely each member reads bills. it has to do with a struggling economy, a war not going well, and multiple unresolved large problems, like our lack of a plan for transitioning to renewable energy. The Republican strategy of stall, just say no to everything, and attack anything accomplished is having effect, I’ll give them credit for that. But as a governing strategy it has no legs.

    • Rob DeHarpport

      Dittoe Rupert! Why can’t we add to this; cite just exactly which part of the Constituition allows any new proposal. If that can’t be clearly cited, it never comes out of committee. The “Commerce Clause” has been abused and trampled over & over to allow un-constituitional laws.
      What happened to the “most open and transparent congress” or “draining the swamp?” I guess that may happen in November, Thank you, Mr. Obama!

  • Jerry

    But will anyone read his law? That is the question.

  • Anonymous

    You obviously forgot the four noble truths:

    When a conservative/Republican publishes something written poorly, it is because he or she is “stupid.”

    When a conservative/Republican publishes something written well, it is because “someone else wrote it.”

    When a liberal/Democrat publishes something written well, we should all nod in wise agreement and believe it without question or fact checking.

    When a liberal/Democrat publishes something written poorly, you are a racist.

    • Anonymous

      DOH, and I am stupid because I posted the above in the wrong thread… 🙁

      • Anonymous

        Dang it, now the spam filter won’t let me paste it under the correct post. FAIL!

        • valley p

          So can we at least have an aphorism about a conservative who posts in the wrong place?

          • Anonymous

            Yes, I deserve that. At least we admit it when we are wrong!

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