Hoyer to constituents: "Read the bill"

Steny Hoyer did what many of his colleagues refuse to do — meet his constituents in person.  According to reports from Politico and Jimmy Bise, Hoyer also holds his constituents to a higher standard than his Democratic colleagues use for themselves.  An exasperated Hoyer told ObamaCare opponents to “read the bill,” apparently without the staff and two lawyers Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) requires:

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s town hall meeting in suburban Maryland Tuesday evening dissolved into chaos, with attendees at several points bringing the event to a complete halt. …

Hoyer reacted to the barbs calmly, explaining how proposals were being discussed and trying to assuage his constituents of their concerns.

But Hoyer at times seemed exasperated.

“Let me just say this,” Hoyer said. “Read the bill.”

“We have!” a few people yelled back.

Hoyer is scolding the wrong people.  He should be scolding elected officials whose job it is to read bills before voting on them … like Conyers, who scoffed at the notion:

Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) also says that’s not part of his job description:

Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes (NH-02) believes reading every bill in Congress “would slow down the business of Congress to a crawl and it would be hard to get done what needs to be done.”

Members of Congress who don’t read the bills they are voting on “is not necessarily the major problem with the way Congress functions,” he said. …

“Hodes said it’s not realistic to expect members of Congress to read every bill word-for-word, as Congress took more than 2,000 votes in the session that ended in December,” the paper reports.

This year, Hodes voted in support of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package and for so-called cap-and-trade legislation. Both measures were finalized late in the legislative process and rushed to a vote before any individual member could read the bills.

Reading bills is for the hoi polloi, not for the ruling class!

Hoyer also tried insisting that the bill would not cover illegal aliens.  Maybe Hoyer should start reading legislative analysis from the Congressional Research Service.  They have a much different take:

In its subsection on health insurance subsidies (known as “affordability credits”), HR 3200 does state, “Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.” That would seem to solve the problem, but it’s more rhetoric than reality. The bill contains no verification requirement or enforcement process for citizenship or legal residency, as exists for other federal benefit programs. The only verification required for the subsidies pertains to family income. Beyond that, as the CRS report notes, everything is left in the hands of the Health Choices Commissioner.

House Democrats defeated all attempts in committee to add an enforcement mechanism that would require proof of citizenship or legal residency for those getting subsidies.

Hoyer could tell his constituents to read the CRS analysis themselves — except that Congress keeps those confidential.

Be sure to read Jimmy’s post to get the flavor of the event, and see Jimmy’s pictures of the prologue.