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  1. #1
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    Congressional Leaders Fight Against Posting Bills Online

    Congressional Leaders Fight Against Posting Bills Online

    By Susan Ferrechia, Chief Congressional Correspondent
    http://educate-yourself.org/cn/congress ... ct09.shtml

    October 6, 2009

    As Congress lurches closer to a decision on an enormous overhaul of the American health care system, pressure is mounting on legislative leaders to make the final bill available online for citizens to read before a vote. Lawmakers were given just hours to examine the $789 billion stimulus plan, sweeping climate change legislation and a $700 billion bailout package before final votes. While most Americans normally ignore parliamentary detail, with health care looming, voters are suddenly paying attention. The Senate is expected to vote on a health bill in the weeks to come, representing months of work and stretching to hundreds of pages. And as of now, there is no assurance that members of the public, or even the senators themselves, will be given the chance to read the legislation before a vote."The American people are now suspicious of not only the lawmakers, but the process they hide behind to do their work," said Michael Franc, president of government relations for the Heritage Foundation, a
    conservative think tank.

    At town hall meetings across the country this past summer, the main topic was health care, but there was a strong undercurrent of anger over the way Congress rushed through passage of the stimulus, global warming and bank bailout bills without seeming to understand the consequences. The stimulus bill, for example, was 1,100 pages long and made available to Congress and the public just 13 hours before lawmakers voted on it.
    The bill has failed to provide the promised help to the job market, and there was outrage when it was discovered that the legislation included an amendment allowing American International Group, a bailout recipient, to give out millions in employee bonuses."If someone had a chance to look at the bill, they would have found that out," said Lisa Rosenberg, who lobbies Congress on behalf of the Sunlight Foundation to bring more transparency to government. The foundation has begun an effort to get Congress to post bills online, for all to see, 72 hours before lawmakers vote on them.

    "It would give the public a chance to really digest and understand what is in the bill," Rosenberg said, "and communicate whether that is a good or a bad thing while there is still time to fix it."

    What you don't know can hurt you:

    » House energy and global warming bill, passed June 26, 2009. 1,200 pages. Available online 15 hours before vote.

    » $789 billion stimulus bill, passed Feb. 14, 2009. 1,100 pages. Available online 13 hours before debate.

    » $700 billion financial sector rescue package, passed Oct. 3, 2008. 169 pages. Available online 29 hours before vote.

    » USA Patriot domestic surveillance bill, passed Oct. 23, 2001. Unavailable to the public before debate.

    A similar effort is under way in Congress. Reps. Brian Baird, D
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    Who the pudding can read 1,200 pages in 15 hours and have time to digest this bill or possible consequences and loopholes? A person has occasionally to take time to eat, sleep and other things. An Amercan citizen does not have a staff to advise, so we have to do research ourselves. And we certainly have no lobbyists to influence anyone to listen to our worries and opinions.
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    Democrats Balk at Posting Healthcare Bills, Other Legislation Online

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009 7:10 PM

    By: David Lightman, McClatchy Newspapers

    WASHINGTON -- As Congress prepares to consider historic changes to the nation's health care system, Democratic leaders are balking at supporting a change in the rules that would let the public see the bills' texts 72 hours before a vote.

    An unusual coalition of conservatives, watchdog groups and a handful of Democrats has joined the push by Rep. Brian Baird , D- Wash. , to put the 72-hour measure into a binding rule for the House of Representatives . Similar efforts in the Senate haven't gained much momentum.

    House Democratic leaders have pledged transparency before. In their 2006 campaign book, in the "integrity" section, they vowed that legislation would be available to the public 24 hours before "consideration" of final versions.

    On some recent big bills, that hasn't happened, however. On Feb. 12 , the 1,100-page, $787 billion economic-stimulus plan was made public at 10:45 p.m. EST and brought up in the House 13 hours later.

    Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D- Calif. , said that since Democrats took control of the House in 2007, several measures had been adopted to make the legislative process more transparent, such as posting amendments' texts online before consideration.

    Pelosi also said last month that she was "absolutely" willing to put the health care bill online 72 hours in advance but that she wouldn't back legislation forcing her to do so.

    "The vast majority of bills that have been considered by the House have been online for weeks and will continue to follow this process," Elshami said. Elshami didn't respond, however, when asked why Pelosi won't back Baird's bill.

    Baird vowed to keep pushing.

    "It's great what she said about health care, but it hasn't happened yet," he said. "The problem is that over the last decade or so, the more important the legislation, the less time we've had to read it."

    Republicans and independent watchdog groups also have pounced.

    "We think the public has a right and an obligation to look at these bills, and perhaps say to their congressman or senator, 'Fix this,' '' said Lisa Rosenberg , the government affairs consultant at the Sunlight Foundation , an independent group that works for openness in government.

    Republicans were hardly champions of such transparency when they controlled Congress most of the time from 1995 to 2007. The 2,065-page 2003 Medicare prescription-drug benefit bill was made available to the public 22 hours before House debate began.

    According to a study by Rafael DeGennaro , the president of Citizen Century Institute , an independent research group based in Branford, Conn. , Republican House leaders acted on eight major budget bills from 1996 to 2004 without giving 72 hours' notice.

    Two developments have spurred the movement to change the system: the House Democrats' 2006 platform, and the rise of the Internet, which gives the public unprecedented access to Congress' inner workings.

    Seventy-two hours is considered adequate time for review because "a handful of hours is really too short, but we don't want a rule that forces one more slowdown," said Bartlett Cleland, the director of the Institute for Policy Innovation's Center for Technology Freedom , an advocacy group based in Dallas .

    The House and Senate are expected to finish writing health care legislation shortly, perhaps by the end of this week, with floor debate to follow as soon as next week.

    Baird and Rep. Greg Walden , R- Ore. , are trying to force their 72-hour resolution to change House rules to the floor with a "discharge petition," an unusual procedure that leaders dislike because it challenges their control of the process.

    Currently, the petition has 182 signatures, almost all Republicans; 218 are needed to force a House vote.

    In the Senate , where the issue rarely has come up, Republicans tried to get the Finance Committee to adopt the 72-hour rule as it deliberated over health care measures last month. Part of the problem: The committee technically wasn't writing a bill, but drafting "conceptual language."

    Chairman Max Baucus , D- Mont. , urged everyone not to worry. "It's all good faith," he said. "It's based on comity. We work together. We trust each other. And that's worked very, very well." The 72-hour effort failed by one vote in the Finance Committee .

    Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

    http://www.newsmax.com/headlines/pelosi ... 74652.html

    Related:
    Countdown to Transparency: Force Vote on 72 Hr. Online Rule
    http://www.alipac.us/ftopict-173012-baird.html
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    Senior Member miguelina's Avatar
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    On some recent big bills, that hasn't happened, however. On Feb. 12 , the 1,100-page, $787 billion economic-stimulus plan was made public at 10:45 p.m. EST and brought up in the House 13 hours later.
    Nice, put it up when most people are in bed and then work. When can anyone read something this big between 1045pm EST and 1145am EST? So much for transparency.



    Chairman Max Baucus , D- Mont. , urged everyone not to worry. "It's all good faith," he said. "It's based on comity. We work together. We trust each other. And that's worked very, very well." The 72-hour effort failed by one vote in the Finance Committee .
    Well ain't that grand? You trust each other and play well together! Yippee skippy. Guess he didn't get the memo showing congress' disapproval ratings. We don't trust any of you, Baucus. Good faith indeed!


    "We think the public has a right and an obligation to look at these bills, and perhaps say to their congressman or senator, 'Fix this,' '' said Lisa Rosenberg , the government affairs consultant at the Sunlight Foundation , an independent group that works for openness in government.
    Of course we do. Nothing should be passed until we the people have read the tomes. Goes without saying that legislators should also be required to read before voting.
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