Reading 42 Pages Per Hour is Too Slow For Pelosi

Earlier today we reported on an attempt by Senate Republicans to amend pending health care legislation with the requirement that it be posted online for Senators and the public to read 72 hours, or three days, in advance of voting.  Democrats defeated the amendment.   A reader called our attention to a similar effort in the House of Representatives.

Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Brian Baird (D-Wash.) introduced a resolution in June that would require a 72 hour/three day time-out to allow members and the public to read legislation online before the House votes.  Here are some excerpts from the official summary:

Amends…rules of the House of Representatives to make it out of order…to consider a measure or matter until 72 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays unless the House is in session on such a day) after its text and… the text of all accompanying reports have been made available to Members…and the general public.

Requires the full text of the legislation and each committee report, without further amendment before floor consideration, to be posted continuously by means of the Internet.

Declares that nothing in this resolution …shall be interpreted to require …posting on the Internet of classified information in the custody of the House.

So far, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has abused her authority to prevent this resolution from coming to the floor of the House for a vote.  Yesterday, Representatives Walden and Baird filed a “discharge petition.”  If signed by a majority of  members a discharge petition compels the Speaker to schedule a vote of the full House.

Only in the alternative reality of Congress would a mere three days to read and comprehend the meaning of – and unintended consequences of – hundreds of pages or thousands of pages of dense, arcane legalese be seen as unreasonable delay.  Taking the House version of ObamaCare as an example, if one worked eight hours per day one would have to be able to read, analyze and consider the consequences of 42 pages per hour.  Many of those pages refer to other laws and federal codes, that one would also have to look up and read.

The opposition to permitting Congressmen, Senators and the public this pathetic little window of time brings the brazen arrogance of the political establishment into sharp focus.  The notion that we voters and taxpayers and our elected representatives should accept only three days to review thousand-plus page bills may seem like a joke out here in the real world.

But if enacted this rule would be a revolutionary change to business as usual in Congress.  It has become routine since the Obama Administration began for  Senators and Congressmen to vote for monumentally complex legislation they have not read, and do not begin to understand.

Representatives Walden and Baird deserve our support and respect for trying to establish as a norm a procedure that allows us any time at all to read legislation, in its final, amended version, before it comes up for a vote.

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