DownsizeDC.org
November 15, 2007
Irresponsibility
By James Wilson
Today's Downsizer-Dispatch . . . Quote of the Day

"Demanding that the members of Congress take the time to know exactly what they are doing is NOT, in my opinion, a very outlandish or absurd request. It is a position that I think people of all political views can get behind. After all, who among us actually desires irresponsible government?"
- Libertarian Jason, Yearning to Breathe Free Blog

Subject: Read the Bills Act

If you want a bill passed, one easy way to score debating points is to accuse opponents of not reading it. Over the months, we've seen this tactic used on blogs and television. We've even seen it in Congress:

"Mr. Speaker, to the gentleman from Texas, he obviously didn’t read the bill. I recommend that you read the bills before you get up on the floor and make a fool of yourself." - Rep. Bill Pascrell, on the House floor speaking on behalf of the Trade and Globalization Assistance Act

The first thing that springs to mind is, does Rep. Pascrell actually read all the bills he opposes? Does he even read all the bills he supports? If the answer is no to either question, he shouldn't cast the first stone on a colleague.

H.R. 3920, the bill Rep. Pascrell is referring to, is 146 pages. It passed on Oct 31, in a week where the House passed an additional 180 pages of legislation. It may be true that the bill's opponents didn't read it, but its doubtful its supporters did either. If you oppose a bill without reading all of it, Rep. Pascrell may call you a "fool." But for a member of Congress to support a bill without reading it is worse than foolish. As our Quote of the Day says, it is irresponsible.

And the irresponsibility adds up, week after week, year after year. For instance, just last week the House passed 16 bills totaling 485 pages, and the Senate passed five bills amounting to 135 pages. It is hard to believe any of them were read before they passed. (The bills are listed at the bottom of this Dispatch.)

To combat all this irresponsibility, DownsizeDC.org drafted the Read the Bills Act (RTBA). If you are not familiar with the RTBA, you can learn more here.

And you can tell your Representative and Senators to introduce the RTBA before Congress here.

When you do, tell them that introducing the RTBA is not an outlandish or absurd request, that all we are asking is that they know exactly what they are doing. That they be responsible.

By the way, today's Quote of the Day came from a member of the Read the Bills Act Coalition. When you add your own blog or website to the Coalition, we will link to it from our blog and announce it in a Dispatch like this one. Click here to join.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc. 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 5 bills, 135 pages Omnibus Indian Advancement Act Amendment: Senate passed S. 1347, to amend the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act to modify the date as of which certain tribal land of the Lytton Rancheria of California is deemed to be held in trust and to provide for the conduct of certain activities on the land. 4 pages Oscar G. Johnson Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Facility: Committee on Veterans' Affairs was discharged from further consideration of H.R. 2602, to name the Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility in Iron Mountain, Michigan, as the ``Oscar G. Johnson Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Facility'', and the bill was then passed, clearing the measure for the President. 1 page Accountability in Government Contracting Act: Senate passed S. 680, to ensure proper oversight and accountability in Federal contracting. 56 pages Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2008: Senate agreed to the conference report on H.R. 3222, making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, clearing the measure for the President. 50 pages. Refuge Ecology Protection, Assistance, and Immediate Response Act Referral--Agreement: A unanimous consent agreement was reached providing that the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources be discharged from further consideration of H.R. 767, to protect, conserve, and restore native fish, wildlife, and their natural habitats at national wildlife refuges through cooperative, incentive-based grants to control, mitigate, and eradicate harmful nonnative species, and the bill be referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. 24 pages HOUSE 16 bills, 486 pages Stop Tuberculosis (TB) Now Act of 2007: H.R. 1567, amended, to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to provide increased assistance for the prevention, treatment, and control of tuberculosis; 14 pages Eurasia Foundation Act: H.R. 2949, amended, to authorize grants to the Eurasia Foundation; 13 pages National Heroes Credit Protection Act: H.R. 513, amended, to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to enhance the protection of credit ratings of active duty military personnel who are activated for military service, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 349 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 1035; 6 pages Providing technical corrections to Public Law 109-116 (2 U.S.C. 2131a note) to extend the time period for the Joint Committee on the Library to enter into an agreement to obtain a statue of Rosa Parks: S. 2206, to provide technical corrections to Public Law 109-116 (2 U.S.C. 2131a note) to extend the time period for the Joint Committee on the Library to enter into an agreement to obtain a statue of Rosa Parks--clearing the measure for the President. 1 page Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2007: H.R. 3997, amended, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide earnings assistance and tax relief to members of the uniformed services, volunteer firefighters, and Peace Corps volunteers, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 410 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 1042; 40 pages Purple Heart Family Equity Act of 2007: H.R. 1119, amended, to amend title 36, United States Code, to revise the congressional charter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart of the United States of America, Incorporated, to authorize associate membership in the corporation for the spouse of a recipient of the Purple Heart medal; 4 pages Kendell Frederick Citizenship Assistance Act: H.R. 2884, amended, to assist members of the Armed Forces in obtaining United States citizenship; 8 pages Small Business Programs Act of 2007: H.R. 3866, amended, to reauthorize certain programs under the Small Business Act for each of fiscal years 2008 and 2009; 10 pages Kids in Disasters Well-being, Safety, and Health Act of 2007: H.R. 3495, amended, to establish a National Commission on Children and Disasters and a National Resource Center on Children and Disasters, by a 2/3 yea-and-nay vote of 402 yeas to 8 nays, Roll No. 1043; 14 pages Extending the existing provisions regarding the eligibility for essential air service subsidies through fiscal year 2008: S. 2265, amended, to extend the existing provisions regarding the eligibility for essential air service subsidies through fiscal year 2008. 6 pages Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2007: The House passed H.R. 3685, to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, by a yea-and-nay vote of 235 yeas to 184 nays, Roll No. 1057. 22 pages United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act: The House passed H.R. 3688, to implement the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, by a yea-and-nay vote of 285 yeas to 132 nays, Roll No. 1060. Consideration of the measure began on Wednesday, November 7th. 95 pages Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2008: The House agreed to the conference report to accompany H.R. 3222, making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, by a yea-and-nay vote of 400 yeas to 15 nays, Roll No. 1064. 50 pages Homeowners' Defense Act of 2007: The House passed H.R. 3355, to ensure the availability and affordability of homeowners' insurance coverage for catastrophic events, by a recorded vote of 258 ayes to 155 noes, Roll No. 1074. 36 pages Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008: The House agreed to the Senate amendment to H.R. 3043, making appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008, by a yea-and-nay vote of 274 yeas to 141 nays, Roll No. 1075--clearing the measure for the President. 59 pages Temporary Tax Relief Act of 2007: The House passed H.R. 3996, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend certain expiring provisions, by a yea-and-nay vote of 216 yeas to 193 nays, Roll No. 1081. 108 pages
Filed under Downsizer Dispatch, RTBA
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