Green Room

Senator Rand Paul: Bringing Sanity to Congress’ Voting Process

posted at 9:35 pm on July 3, 2012 by

Last week, Congress passed a flawed transportation/flood insurance/student loan bill that became law soon thereafter. The bill’s issues, which I outlined at the above link, include the following:

  1. The conference report combined three unrelated bills into one, a too-common practice on Capitol Hill to offset costs and garner votes by putting “must-pass” legislation around bills of lower priority. TARP and the PPACA are examples of bills that followed this pattern.
  2. Further student loan subsidization is a bad thing for college costs and quality. The lower rate was put into place as a “temporary” policy in 2007, but like many so-called temporary measures it has now been extended. Apparently elections are more important than the quality of higher education in Washington – a shocking concept, I know.
  3.  Procedurally, the legislation was passed with a waiver so Members didn’t have to stay in Washington until Saturday. While I’m usually all in favor of Congress leaving town, it’s yet another small indication of where priorities are for many Members – on their own agendas, not on the promises of transparency or putting their constituents first.
  4. As Heritage notes, it simply spends too much.

Fortunately, the taxpayers may actually benefit in the long run from this bill. Yesterday, The Hill reported that Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced two important, and long overdue, bills that coincidentally address two of the issues I tackled above:

After blasting the Senate last week for passing a 600-page bill no one had time to read, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced legislation that would force the Senate to give its members one day to read bills for every 20 pages they contain.

“For goodness sakes, this is a 600-page bill. I got it this morning,” Paul said Friday, just before the Senate approved a massive bill extending highway funding, federal flood insurance and low student loans rates.

“Not one member of the Senate will read this bill before we vote on it,” he added.

Paul also introduced related legislation Friday, S. 3359, that would prohibit the inclusion of more than one subject in a single bill.

Of course, these reforms should have never been up for debate in the first place – having time to read something fully before supporting it and letting ideas succeed or fail on their own merits are basic norms everywhere but in Washington. Let’s hope Paul is successful in his effort, and that conservatives everywhere back him to the hilt. Our country is about to fall off a fiscal cliff, but if these measures are put into place perhaps we can slow the drop long enough to get our footing again.

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That would have given Senators about 135 days to read ObamaCare. The bill would not have survived.

Stephen Macklin on July 3, 2012 at 9:53 PM

That would also give the public a chance to read & debate the bills with their family & friends, then contact their Representatives before they vote what to do with their constituents money and liberty

What would that be like,…. maybe a government by the people for the people

batterup on July 3, 2012 at 10:15 PM

James Madison said it best: “It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”

SpiderMike on July 3, 2012 at 11:00 PM

Stephen, well put. It would have taken an entire year and then some for Congress to read the bill and pass it.

Dustin Siggins on July 3, 2012 at 11:11 PM

Stephen, well put. It would have taken an entire year and then some for Congress to read the bill and pass it.

Dustin Siggins on July 3, 2012 at 11:11 PM

Important for the minority to read bills like this, yeah.

But even MORE important that the *Public* reads these damn things and keeps it from seeing the light of day, if need be.

BlaxPac on July 4, 2012 at 12:57 AM

They SHOULD have taken a year and then some to read the bill. Then maybe they’d have known what was in it (maybe) and then NOT VOTED FOR IT. Think how long it took the various Founders to debate and write and pass the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The ACA was FAR larger and nobody read it. They just rubber-stamped it according to whatever their party told them to. Why bother having legislators at all, if they’re not going to think for themselves and deliberate on things we’re going to be stuck living with?

chotii on July 4, 2012 at 1:22 AM

Is it not possible for some sort of class action suit by the voters against the whole damn congress, with the argument that voting on an unread bill is malpractice, and the size and timing of the bills is de facto proof that they were unread?

Yeah, I know. Just dreaming…

bofh on July 4, 2012 at 8:38 AM

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Comments have been closed on this post but the discussion continues here.

Allahpundit on July 4, 2012 at 6:33 PM

How about limiting ALL bills to only 20 pages, total?

karenhasfreedom on July 4, 2012 at 11:30 PM