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We Must Get A "Read The Bills Act Passed"

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Message Cliff Carson

This morning I sent to my Arkansas Congress people -House Rep Mike Ross, Senators Blanche Lincoln and David Pryor, the following message about a Read the Bills Act”:


“This bill is as American as Apple Pie.  And the bill enforces Fidelity and Morality of our Government.  To pass any legislation without having read what you are voting for, or against, is inexcusable.

And yet, our Representatives have adopted this practice with gusto.  It's
time to put a stop to it.  I am asking you to introduce this at your first
opportunity, preferably at your next session.

Anything less than adopting the stewardship that we have entrusted in you is an indication that you do not have our best interests as your priority.

If you won't represent your people, you don't deserve our support.  This bill will end Pork and bring honesty back to governance”.


I sent it because after reading the Draft and many words about the proposed bill, I have come to the conclusion that nothing will happen unless I do my part, small as it is.  But if I could be joined by the many millions that would be affected by the Bill, and if they would do the same thing as I have just done, we would ultimately get such a bill as law.


I guess what really pushed me to action this morning was an article by Brian Riedl, of the Heritage Foundation.  The article “Oink! Oink! Oink! Listed three instances of the disdain your elected representatives have for you.  Those three were:


Item 1:  Last month, the Senate had to choose how to spend $400 million:  Health insurance for 173,000 children, or 1,056 pork projects.  Pork won 68-26.


Item 2:  Following the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis, senators had to choose between spending $ 1 Billion repairing structurally deficient bridges, or on pork projects.  They voted 82-14 in favor of pork.


Item 3:  Congress recently overrode a Presidential veto for the first time.  And what finally brought Republicans and Democrats together to override the president?  Iraq, Health care, Immigration?  NO.  It was a massive $23 billion water bill overflowing with pork projects.


Thank you Brian for those eye openers.  


Most of the excuses coming from Congress, when such excesses are revealed, boils down to “ I didn’t know it was in there”, or the old “ I voted for the good, not the bad”.  Surely they can do better and so can we.


The Read the Bills Act (find it on Downsizer, DC and many other places on the Net) would go a long way to cutting out the pork.  What the bill would do, if passed as drafted would require that any Congressperson who votes on a bill must have read the bill, otherwise the bill would become null and void.  I have copied the following brief summary from the Downsizer page explaining the proposed bill.

  • Each bill, and every amendment, must be read in its entirety before a quorum in both the House and Senate.
  • Every member of the House and Senate must sign a sworn affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that he or she has attentively either personally read, or heard read, the complete bill to be voted on.
  • Every old law coming up for renewal under the sunset provisions must also be read according to the same rules that apply to new bills.
  • Every bill to be voted on must be published on the Internet at least 7 days before a vote, and Congress must give public notice of the date when a vote will be held on that bill.
  • Passage of a bill that does not abide by these provisions will render the measure null and void, and establish grounds for the law to be challenged in court.
  • Congress cannot waive these requirements.
Riedl goes on in his article to examine many instances of Pork, but the increase of the largess caught my eye.  Riedl points out that in 1996 there were 958 earmarks, but in 2005 the earmarks totaled 13,491 an increase to 14 times greater than 1958, and yet the number of Congress people remained the same.  He points out that the 1982 highway authorization bill contained 10 earmarks, the 2005 version had 6,371.We have let our elected Government get out of control.  We have to absolutely rein them in.  This bill would be a start but by no means the end.  We need to go on to turn out the crooks in 2008 and impose transparent oversight on their replacements.  Looking at the increase in corruption and the rate of the increase, it’s not something we need to do, its something we have to do.     




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Cliff Carson Cliff Carson is a retired Quality Engineering/Management Professional living in Arkansas. He is an MS Operations Management Graduate of the University of Arkansas and is a Senior Member of The American Society for Quality. He and his (more...)
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