Here’s an idea: Try reading the bill before voting on it!

October 12, 2010

Perhaps one of the most frustrating revelations of recent years has been just how much legislation gets passed without legislators -the people we pay to write our laws- actually reading the bills. The recent health care reform legislation was, sadly, only the most recent example of this derelict practice. And it’s a bipartisan failing, as Byron York shows:

There’s a scene in “Fahrenheit 911,” left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore’s mostly forgotten 2004 tirade against George W. Bush, that some of today’s unhappy voters might recognize.

Moore was angry that Congress passed the Patriot Act so quickly that some lawmakers hadn’t read the whole bill. So Moore went to Democratic Rep. John Conyers for an explanation.

“How could Congress pass this Patriot Act without even reading it?” Moore asked.

“Sit down, my son,” Conyers said, lowering his voice as if to reveal a trade secret. “We don’t read most of the bills. Do you really know what that would entail, if we were to read every bill that we passed?”

Thankfully, the Republicans have listened to the public and included a pledge in their recent manifesto to post a bill online in its final form for 72 hours before it’s voted on. That way everyone can read it, including us, the, um, supposed owners of this joint. It won’t guarantee that legislators read every bill that comes along, but it would be great if they’d at least do it for those of national importance, such as taking over one-sixth of the economy.

Be sure to read the whole article. Conyers answers his own question at the end, and I suspect it’s one we can all agree with.


Actually read the bill? You must be joking!

July 27, 2009

Ed at Hot Air has a doozy of a video clip: House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (whose wife recently plead guilty in a bribery  scandal) at a National Press Club luncheon scoffing at the idea that members of Congress voting on proposed health-care legislation should actually read it and know what’s in it. Ed writes:

Representative democracy rests on having the people send Congressmen and Senators to Washington DC to vote on legislation so that we don’t have to hold constant national referendums on issues. If the elected representatives don’t bother to read the legislation, then we have surrendered representative democracy and adopted an autocracy of Capitol Hill staffers and lobbyists.

I think he meant “oligarchy” instead of “autocracy,” but the point about the point of representative democracy is spot-on. It’s a big, red warning light that the Federal government is trying to do too much, too fast if members complain they haven’t the time to read the bills. And it’s even worse when they accept this dereliction of duty as just the way things are. It’s corruption not in the sense of criminal bribery or graft, but in a deviation from the intended role of Congress so great that the institution itself can only be seen as debased and rotted.

Really. Go watch the video. Poor man, and how terribly arrogant and unfair we in the public are for expecting him and his colleagues to actually do the job for which we voted them into office.

Maybe it’s time we voted them out. Waiting