And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

>>Read the Bill bill H.R. 554 Update! Good news.

Posted on: September 24, 2009

Update: Read the Bill H.R. 554 still stalled in House.     Discharge petition needs 218 signatures and only has 182 .  Call your Representative now and ask them to sign the Discharge Petition.

Read the Bill Momentum

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 5:54 PM
From:
“Jake Brewer” <JBrewer@sunlightfoundation.com>

There’s been some big developments today, friends.

In June, we let you know that Representatives John Culberson (R-TX) and Brian Baird (D-WA) introduced a resolution, H.Res 554, that would change House rules to require all major bills to be posted online publicly for at least 72 hours before they are debated.

Essentially: a “Read the Bill” resolution.

Well, today, members of Congress filed a “discharge petition” in the House regarding that resolution, and if the petition gets 218 signatures in the House, leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer will be required to schedule H.Res 554 for a vote on the House floor.

Our Read the Bill resolution has been languishing in the House for many months–years, if you include versions that have been introduced in prior Congresses–and a discharge petition is a way to force a bill to the floor for a vote. This is the time to make it happen.

Take a moment and make a phone call to ask your Rep. to sign onto H.Res 554 using our simple website. Ask your friends to do the same.

http://readthebill.org

At the end of the day it comes down to this: an informed citizenry is critical to a functioning democracy.  The point isn’t only whether legislators read every word, but whether all citizens – people like us – have an opportunity to review and comment on pending legislation before it has an impact on our lives.

We are going to make sure we have that chance.

There’s no ifs, ands, or buts. Legislation should be online for everyone to read.

Jake

ps For the full scoop on today’s action, read Lisa Rosenberg’s full rundown:
http://blog.sunlightfoundation.com/2009/09/23/72-hour-rule-momentum/


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9 Responses to ">>Read the Bill bill H.R. 554 Update! Good news."

Thank you for this information. I am appalled. What are they so afraid of? This is just an outrage and throws transparency directly out the window.

House leadership may be attempting to undermine an effort to require that you get to read all legislation and conference reports online for three days before they can be voted on.

House Resolution 554, sponsored by Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) would require a change of the House Rules to this effect – but the bill has not moved for weeks. A discharge petition is being circulated to bring the bill to the floor. If 218 House Members sign the discharge petition for House Resolution 554, the Resolution will be brought to the House floor for consideration. As of Wednesday, October 1, 181 members had signed the petition.

In what appears to be an effort to co-opt this petition drive, Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) is circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter that calls on Leadership to merely “strive to meet” a standard already in the House rules which technically would provide for a review period.

However, the big problem with that is that the rules that are in place obviously are not working, as we have seen with the way the “stimulus” and the “cap-and-trade” bills were rushed through Congress with little debate. The letter also provides for a loophole big enough to drive a truck through by stating:

We ask that the Leadership of the House strive to meet this established standard
with all major legislation, with only the rarest and most necessary of exceptions.

In other words, we’re all for transparency, except when we aren’t!?

Only binding legislation will force lawmakers to take time for debate and allow the American people to see bills and voice their opinions on them before they are voted into law.

Tell all members of Congress to sign the Discharge Petition for H.Res. 554 today

Thank you David! Most heartily agree.

Now we have a Health Care Reform Bill coming out in the Senate that isn’t a bill at all. It is merely and outline of a bill that will be left for others behind closed doors to fill in any way they want AFTER it is voted on and APPROVED and becomes the law of the land. Check it out; the Finance Committee is not required to submit entire bills but merely this vague outline of “desires”. Another cop out and back door attempt to push this nation and people killer on us.

Thank you donna for your comment and for stopping by. BB

Keep up the pressure on your congressman/woman This petition is not moving. My congressm$an Frank Kratovil co-sponsored the bill but is not signing the petition. Perhaps Pelosi or Hoyer got to him and others. CALL YOUR REPRESENTATiVES

You are on the right track. I email as many congress man as I have access to every week faithfully about one thing or another. The house of Representatives is very difficult to get hold of if they are not your representatives. this is why it is good to keep supporting Rep. Michele Bachmann. I am from North Carolina and she is from Minn. but I made a campaign donation. we need her in congress. BB

I just finished a call to the office of Rep. Travis Childers, MS District 1, asking if he had signed the discharge petition.

The staffer who answered assured me that he has not signed the discharge petition, because HR.554 has already passed.

I am willing to trust, but only if I can verify.

Who can post a checkable verification that the House Rules have been changed as specified by HR.554? I would prefer to see a search string for Google, http://clerk.house.gov, or http://thomas.loc.gov/.

Check this site. http://www.ombwatch.org/node/10463
As of October 14 the bill was stalled in Congress. I am looking for an update. If you find anything please post here. BB

Read the Bill Act Stalled in Congress
Posted on October 14, 2009

Recently introduced House and Senate resolutions seek to illuminate the legislative process, giving Congress, as well as the American people, the opportunity to read legislation and formulate an informed opinion prior to any debate or votes.

In the House, Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) introduced H.Res. 554 on June 17, along with 180 cosponsors from both parties. The resolutions would amend House rules to require that non-emergency bills and conference reports be posted online for at least 72 hours prior to consideration by the full chamber.

In the Senate, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) introduced S.Res. 307 on Oct. 7, which has gained the support of 28 Republican cosponsors. The proposal would amend the Senate rules but would establish an even more exacting standard, requiring that legislation, accompanied by an evaluation from the Congressional Budget Office, be posted online 72 hours before subcommittee and committee consideration, as well a similar time standard for floor debate and votes.

ReadtheBill.org, a project of the Sunlight Foundation, has been supporting the legislation. According to its website, there are several important benefits to such a legislative approach: “When Congress rushes to pass complex legislation, the bills are not properly vetted. With more time to examine the legislation, the public can help ferret out wasteful spending, sneaky provisions that were inserted by well-connected special interests and other problematic provisions.”

The House Rules Committee has had that chamber’s resolution since late June with no action. On Sept. 23, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) filed a motion to discharge the resolution from the committee. A discharge motion recalls a bill from committee for consideration by the full House and is a procedural move used to circumvent a committee that has no intention on acting upon legislation. Such a petition may be circulated if a bill has sat in committee for 30 days without being reported out and requires a simple majority (218 representatives) to be successful. The discharge petition for H.Res. 554 currently has 182 signatures. The resolution appears stuck in the Rules Committee until additional support is found for the discharge petition.

The Senate resolution has garnered attention mostly from Republicans, as noted by the cosponsor list. Moreover, the effort appears sidelined by health care and energy legislation, two wars, spending bills, and countless other matters perceived as higher legislative priorities.

Those promoting congressional transparency consider passage of the “Read the Bill” legislation a key element in bringing sunshine to Congress. It remains to be seen if legislators have the same interest.

Just received answer from the Sunlight Foundation:

Hi Brenda,
Thanks for getting in touch. Do you perhaps mean H.Res. 554 (not H.R.)?
It is available here: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-hr554/show

That bill, which would require all non-emergency bills to be posted online 72 hours before consideration, has not been brought for a vote. We just met with Reps. Baird and Culberson today, as they had introduced the bill. Importantly, we also just sent a letter to the House Rules Committee to urge them to hold a hearing on the 72 hour rule to clear any confusion from within the Capitol and move the bill forward. You can read more about that here: http://blog.sunlightfoundation.com/2009/10/21/letter-to-congress-hold-a-hearing-if-you-have-questions-about-reading-the-bill/

Hope this helps! Thanks again for your support.
Best,
Gabriela

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