DownsizeDC.org
May 27, 2008
Can Congress Govern Itself?
By James Wilson
Today's Downsizer-Dispatch . . . Quotes of the Day:

"But he can't even run his own life, I'll be damned if he runs mine!"
- Jonathan Edwards, "Sunshine (Go Away Today)"

"Did you read this bill?"
- House Minority Leader John Boehner, on the Farm Bill.

Subject: Can Congress Govern Itself?

If members of Congress can't even govern themselves, how can they govern the country?




First, they sneak some things into bills on purpose.

Then, they pull things out of bills by accident.

But it is YOUR life that is affected by THEIR mistakes. Members of Congress break the laws they pass, violate their own voting rules, and can't even keep track of bills they actually pass. Congress can't even run Congress. When they try to run our lives as well, taxes and prices increase while our freedoms disappear.

Congress would accomplish more by doing less. The fewer "solutions" they impose, the more freedom we'll have to run our lives as we see fit. And if Congress governed itself better, the people would trust it more.

Downsize DC's Read the Bills Act (RTBA) will help Congress do a better job.

  • By requiring bills to be read before a quorum in Congress, the legislative process will slow down. Urgent, national priorities will be addressed, but Congress won't have time for pet projects and pork.
  • The final amended bill passed by both the House and Senate would be the bill the President signs or vetoes. It would also be the same version posted on the Internet for seven days before Congress votes. If pages are missing from a bill, it would be caught before passage, not after.
Tell Congress it needs to accomplish more by attempting less. Tell them the people would be better off with fewer laws and subsidies, and that the Read the Bills Act is a good way to accomplish this. Use one or more of the examples above in your personal comments. You can send your message here.

We also invite you to join the Read the Bills Act Coalition, where you help spread the word about the RTBA. In return we'll link to your site on our blog and announce it to over 23,000 subscribers in a future issue of the Downsizer-Dispatch. Instructions for joining the coalition are here.

This week, we welcome one new member to the Coalition:

ACME Web Pages

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Finally, in the last two weeks the House passed 41 bills totaling 2021 pages, and the Senate passed 15 bills totaling 1234 pages. A list of these bills can be found in the blog version of this Dispatch.

Thank-you for being a DC Downsizer.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President
DownsizeDC.org The following are the bills the House and Senate passed last week. The bills were passed by voice vote except where indicated. Roll call votes for the House are found here, and for the Senate here. The descriptions of bills are essentially taken verbatim from the Congressional Record Daily Digest. Page numbers of bills are based on the pdf display of the latest version from the Government Printing Office. SENATE 15 bills, 1234 pages Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act: By 92 yeas to 6 nays (Vote No. 125), Senate passed H.R. 3121, to restore the financial solvency of the national flood insurance program and to provide for such program to make available multiperil coverage for damage resulting from windstorms and floods, after the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Development was discharged from its further consideration, after striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof, the text of S. 2284, Senate companion measure. 106 pages Temporary Extension of Programs: Senate passed H.R. 6051, to amend Public Law 110-196 to provide for a temporary extension of programs authorized by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 beyond May 16, 2008, clearing the measure for the President. 1 page Strategic Petroleum Reserve: Senate passed H.R. 6022, to suspend the acquisition of petroleum for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, clearing the measure for the President. 2 pages Encourage Display of Flag: Committee on the Judiciary was discharged from further consideration of H.R. 2356, to amend title 4, United States Code, to encourage the display of the flag of the United States on Father's Day, and the bill was then passed, clearing the measure for the President. 1 page Small Business Act Programs Temporary Extension: Senate passed S. 3029, to provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958. 1 page Food, Conservation, and Energy Act--Conference Report: By 81 yeas to 15 nays (Vote No. 130), Senate agreed to the conference report to accompany H.R. 2419, to provide for the continuation of agricultural programs through fiscal year 2012. 628 pages Credit and Debit Card Receipt Clarification Act: Senate passed H.R. 4008, to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to make technical corrections to the definition of willful noncompliance with respect to violations involving the printing of an expiration date on certain credit and debit card receipts before the date of the enactment of this Act, clearing the measure for the President. 2 pages Protecting Our Children Comes First Act: Committee on the Judiciary was discharged from further consideration of H.R. 2517, to amend the Missing Children's Assistance Act to authorize appropriations, and the bill was then passed, clearing the measure for the President. 5 pages KIDS Act: Senate passed S. 431, to require convicted sex offenders to register online identifiers, after agreeing to the committee amendments. 16 pages Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act: Senate passed H.R. 6081, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide benefits for military personnel, clearing the measure for the President. 70 pages Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act: Senate passed S. 1965, to protect children from cybercrimes, including crimes by online predators, to enhance efforts to identify and eliminate child pornography, and to help parents shield their children from material that is inappropriate for minors, 8 pages Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act: Senate passed S. 2062, to amend the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996 to reauthorize that Act. 44 pages Federal Food Donation Act: Senate passed S. 2420, to encourage the donation of excess food to D652nonprofit organizations that provide assistance to food-insecure people in the United States in contracts entered into by executive agencies for the provision, service, or sale of food, after agreeing to the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute. 6 pages Climate Security Act--Agreement: Senate began consideration of the motion to proceed to consideration of S. 3036, to direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a program to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases. 344 pages HOUSE 41 bills, 2021 pages Suspending the acquisition of petroleum for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve: H.R. 6022, to suspend the acquisition of petroleum for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 385 yeas to 25 nays, Roll No. 307; 2 pages Credit and Debit Card Receipt Clarification Act of 2007: H.R. 4008, to amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to make technical corrections to the definition of willful noncompliance with respect to violations involving the printing of an expiration date on certain credit and debit card receipts before the date of the enactment of this Act, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 407 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 308; 2 pages Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle Ultra-High Relief Bullion Coin Act: H.R. 5614, amended, to authorize the production of Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle ultra-high relief bullion coins in palladium to provide affordable opportunities for investments in precious metals, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 415 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 325; 15 pages Star-Spangled Banner and War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemorative Coin Act: H.R. 2894, amended, to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the bicentennial of the writing of the ``Star Spangled Banner'' and the War of 1812; 7 pages Boy Scouts of America Centennial Commemorative Coin Act: H.R. 5872, amended, to require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the centennial of the Boy Scouts of America, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 403 yeas to 8 nays, 7 pages Alice Paul Congressional Gold Medal Act: H.R. 406, amended, to posthumously award a Congressional Gold Medal to Alice Paul in recognition of her role in the women's suffrage movement and in advancing equal rights for women, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 412 yeas to 1 nay, Roll No. 326; 6 pages Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Reform Act of 2008: H.R. 5916, amended, to reform the administration of the Arms Export Control Act; 69 pages North Korean Human Rights Reauthorization Act of 2008: H.R. 5834, amended, to amend the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004 to promote respect for the fundamental human rights of the people of North Korea. 12 pages Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008--Conference Report: The House agreed to the conference report on H.R. 2419, to provide for the continuation of agricultural programs through fiscal year 2012, by a recorded vote of 318 ayes to 106 noes, Roll No. 315. 628 pages Amending Public Law 110-196 to provide for a temporary extension of programs authorized by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 beyond May 16, 2008: The House agreed to discharge from committee and agree to H.R. 6051, to amend Public Law 110-196 to provide for a temporary extension of programs authorized by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 beyond May 16, 2008. 1 page Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008: The House agreed to the Senate amendment with amendments, made in order by the rule and printed in H. Rept. 110-636, to H.R. 2642, making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008. 51 pages Federal Real Property Disposal Enhancement Act of 2008: H.R. 5787, amended, to amend title 40, United States Code, to enhance authorities with regard to real property that has yet to be reported excess; 12 pages Making technical corrections to section 1244 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which provides special immigrant status for certain Iraqis: S. 2829, to make technical corrections to section 1244 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which provides special immigrant status for certain Iraqis; 2 pages Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008: H.R. 6081, amended, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide benefits for military personnel, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 403 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 331; 70 pages Amending title 38, United States Code, to establish the position of Director of Physician Assistant Services within the office of the Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health: H.R. 2790, amended, to amend title 38, United States Code, to establish the position of Director of Physician Assistant Services within the office of the Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Health; 4 pages Veterans Benefits Awareness Act of 2008: H.R. 3681, amended, to amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to advertise in the national media to promote awareness of benefits under laws administered by the Secretary; 14 pages Amending title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a longitudinal study of the vocational rehabilitation programs administered by the Secretary: H.R. 3889, amended, to amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a longitudinal study of the vocational rehabilitation programs administered by the Secretary; 4 pages Justin Bailey Veterans Substance Use Disorders Prevention and Treatment Act of 2008: H.R. 5554, amended, to amend title 38, United States Code, to expand and improve health care services available to veterans from the Department of Veterans Affairs for substance use disorders; 12 pages Amending title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to update at least once every six years the plans and specifications for specially adapted housing furnished to veterans by the Secretary: H.R. 5664, amended, to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to update at least once every six years the plans and specifications for specially adapted housing furnished to veterans by the Secretary; 2 pages Spina Bifida Health Care Program Expansion Act: H.R. 5729, amended, to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide comprehensive health care to children of Vietnam veterans born with Spina Bifida; 2 pages Amending the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to provide for the protection of child custody arrangements for parents who are members of the Armed Forces deployed in support of a contingency operation: H.R. 6048, to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to provide for the protection of child custody arrangements for parents who are members of the Armed Forces deployed in support of a contingency operation; 3 pages Providing for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958: S. 3029, to provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958--clearing the measure for the President; 1 page Temporarily extending the programs under the Higher Education Act of 1965: S. 3035, to temporarily extend the programs under the Higher Education Act of 1965--clearing the measure for the President. 1 page Gas Price Relief for Consumers Act of 2008: H.R. 6074, to amend the Sherman Act to make oil-producing and exporting cartels illegal, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 324 yeas to 84 nays, Roll No. 332; 10 pages Great Cats and Rare Canids Act of 2008: H.R. 1464, amended, to assist in the conservation of rare felids and rare canids by supporting and providing financial resources for the conservation programs of nations within the range of rare felid and rare canid populations and projects of persons with demonstrated expertise in the conservation of rare felid and rare canid populations, by a 2/3 recorded vote of 294 ayes to 119 noes, Roll No. 335; 14 pages Lake Hodges Surface Water Improvement and Reclamation Act of 2008: H.R. 2649, amended, to make amendments to the Reclamation Projects Authorization and Adjustment Act of 1992, by a 2/3 recorded vote of 374 ayes to 39 noes, Roll No. 336; 3 pages Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act: H.R. 2744, amended, to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to clarify the eligibility requirements with respect to airline flight crews, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 402 yeas to 9 nays, Roll No. 337. 6 pages Energy and Tax Extenders Act of 2008: The House passed H.R. 6049, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide incentives for energy production and conservation, to extend certain expiring provisions, and to provide individual income tax relief, by a recorded vote of 263 ayes to 160 noes, Roll No. 344. 164 pages Goleta Water Distribution System Conveyance Act of 2008: H.R. 3323, amended, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to convey a water distribution system to the Goleta Water District; 6 pages Federal Electronic Equipment Donation Act of 2008: H.R. 752, amended, to direct Federal agencies to donate excess and surplus Federal electronic equipment, including computers, computer components, printers, and fax machines, to qualifying small towns, counties, schools, nonprofit organizations, and libraries; 12 pages Federal Real Property Disposal Enhancement Act of 2008: H.R. 5787, amended, to amend title 40, United States Code, to enhance authorities with regard to real property that has yet to be reported excess. 12 pages Veterans Emergency Care Fairness Act of 2007: H.R. 3819, amended, to amend title 38, United States Code, to require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to reimburse veterans receiving emergency treatment in non-Department of Veterans Affairs facilities for such treatment until such veterans are transferred to Department facilities, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 412 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 347; 6 pages Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2008: H.R. 5826, to increase, effective as of December 1, 2008, the rates of disability compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities and the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for survivors of certain service-connected disabled veterans, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 417 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 348; 6 pages Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Facility Authorization and Lease Act of 2008: H.R. 5856, to authorize major medical facility projects and major medical facility leases for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2009, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 416 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 349. 12 pages Crane Conservation Act of 2008: H.R. 1771, amended, to assist in the conservation of cranes by supporting and providing, through projects of persons and organizations with expertise in crane conservation, financial resources for the conservation programs of countries the activities of which directly or indirectly affect cranes and the ecosystems of cranes, by a \2/3\ recorded vote of 304 ayes to 118 noes, Roll No. 345; 14 pages Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians Settlement Act: H.R. 4841, amended, to approve, ratify, and confirm the settlement agreement entered into to resolve claims by the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians relating to alleged interferences with the water resources of the Tribe and to authorize and direct the Secretary of the Interior to execute and perform the Settlement Agreement and related waivers; 26 pages Let Our Veterans Rest in Peace Act of 2007: H.R. 3480, amended, to direct the United States Sentencing Commission to assure appropriate enhancements of those involved in receiving stolen property where that property consists of grave markers of veterans; 4 pages Making technical corrections to section 1244 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which provides special immigrant status for certain Iraqis: S. 2829, to make technical corrections to section 1244 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which provides special immigrant status for certain Iraqis--clearing the measure for the President; 2 pages Extending for 5 years the program relating to waiver of the foreign country residence requirement with respect to international medical graduates: H.R. 5571, amended, to extend for 5 years the program relating to waiver of the foreign country residence requirement with respect to international medical graduates; 4 pages Providing for the continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 2012: H.R. 6124, to provide for the continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 2012, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 306 yeas to 110 nays, Roll No. 353. 1 page National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009: The House passed H.R. 5658, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for military activities of the Department of Defense and to prescribe military personnel strengths for fiscal year 2009, by a recorded vote of 384 ayes to 23 noes, Roll No. 365. 702 pages
Filed under Downsizer Dispatch, RTBA
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