In light of the recent $1.5 trillion spending package – that was released in the dead of night, mere hours before a vote took place – I’m renewing my call for Congress to do the bare minimum and read the very bills they are voting on.
Do you think there is a single person in the U.S. who believes that Congress is filled with speed-readers capable of digesting thousands of pages in a matter of hours?
The omnibus spending package was 2,741 pages long. Say it takes one minute to read each page of the bill, that roughly equates to 45 hours or almost two days of straight reading, no breaks.
But again, Congress didn’t even try to pretend they spent time reading the bill because the U.S. House voted on it a few hours after it was completed, and the Senate voted a day later.
I can guarantee you no lawmaker read the bill – or even had time to read it.
This very example is why I previously introduced my “Read the Bills” rule, which would provide sufficient time for legislation to be thoroughly reviewed.
My resolution requires bills, amendments, and conference reports to be available for one day for every 20 pages before they can be considered, while leaving legislators room to act in emergencies.
If this resolution was enacted, the omnibus spending bill would take 137 days to be called for a vote in the U.S. Senate.
If Congress wants quicker action, they could write shorter bills.
Reading the legislation we vote on is a very reasonable request; it’s something I think voters expect from their elected members. Even kids in elementary school are able to complete their assigned reading, why can’t Congress?
If Congress really read the bills, like the nearly 3,000-page omnibus bill, they’d probably be amazed at all the waste that’s shoved into it. But then again, most are proud of the pork barrel funding they’ve secured for their constituency.
In fact, most send press releases after these types of bills are passed, claiming victory and taking credit for redirecting millions of taxpayer dollars to pet projects under the guise of “Community Project Funding” (the new name for earmarks).
Personally, I’ve found one can advocate and deliver for their constituency without cramming it into a 1,000-page bill. There are processes in place to do things the right way that don’t involve wasting taxpayer dollars. And truly, if something is worthy of receiving millions of your taxpayer dollars, it shouldn’t have to be secretly slipped into a random bill.
I stand by my pledge to increase transparency and accessibility in the U.S. Senate.
My resolution will not only give members ample time to read and review all legislation before they vote but also incentivize legislation to be shorter.
Good legislation shouldn’t need to be thousands of pages long.
Congress needs to realize they aren’t fooling anyone.
You can read the op-ed HERE.