DownsizeDC.org
February 2, 2009
It isn't necessarily better for Congress to pass fewer bills
By James Wilson

Quote of the Day: "You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered." -- Lyndon B. Johnson

Subject: It isn't necessarily better for Congress to pass fewer bills

The House passed seven bills and the Senate six in their first month of work. Those are relatively small numbers. You'd think we'd be happy about that. But is it really better to have fewer bills when they include . . .

  • A 680-page "stimulus" bill (or Scam Bill) with 7 Titles (i.e., different subjects), and a cost per family of over $4,300.
  • A 1,248-page Public Land Management Act that includes 15 Titles covering everything from forest management to oceans to water rights disputes to . . . paralysis research!

Whenever we point out something like this we get email asking, "What do you have against paralysis research?" But it's more important to ask . . .

  • What's paralysis research doing in a "land" bill?
  • Doesn't it deserve a debate on its own merits with its own up-and-down vote?
  • Shouldn't the same be true of all the items in this bill?

When Senators passed the "land" bill they made a lot of snap decisions that profoundly affect dozens of states and communities. For instance, they . . .

  • parceled out federal land to communities
  • expanded wilderness areas,
  • and authorized water-supply studies.

Each provision will impact the lives of many people, but Senators . . .

  • know little about these issues, especially outside their own states
  • and they did not read the bill, so they can't really be certain what the bill actually does

If Congress passes laws they haven't read and don't understand, how is that better than a King issuing decrees? How are the people better represented?

DownsizeDC.org has two cures for the problem of inadequate representation: the One subject At A Time Act (OSTA) and the Read the Bills Act (RTBA). Together, these bills would:

  • prevent unrelated topics from being passed as one bill
  • ensure that each member of Congress who votes for a bill has actually read it
  • force Congress to prioritize: omnibus bills running hundreds of pages would no longer be an option
  • force each proposal to be debated on its own merits
  • prevent unpopular measures from sneaking into bills at the last minute
  • save money by discouraging pork-barrel spending

Please use our quick and easy Educate the Powerful System to tell your representatives that . . .

Finally, please consider joining the Read the Bills Act Coalition. Membership will give your blog or website a link on our blog, and a promotion on the Downsizer-Dispatch reaching 24,000+ subscribers. It will also help spread the word about Downsize DC, the "Read the Bills Act," and the "One Subject at a Time Act." Instructions for joining are here.

This week we welcome two new members to the Coalition:

Please use this Dispatch to educate, recruit, and increase the pressure on Congress. Forward this message to others and Digg it on our blog.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President
DownsizeDC.org

 

P.S.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:


Sale and Counterfeiting of Presidential Inaugural Tickets: Committee on Rules and Administration was discharged from further consideration of S. 60, to prohibit the sale and counterfeiting of Presidential inaugural tickets, and the bill was then passed. 3 pages


Lands Bill: By 73 yeas to 21 nays (Vote No. 3), Senate passed S. 22, Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 to designate certain land components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, to authorize certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, 1248 pages


Ralph Regula Federal Office Building and Courthouse: Senate passed S. 273, to require the designation of the federally occupied building located at McKinley Avenue and Third Street, S.W., Canton, Ohio, as the ``Ralph Regula Federal Office Building and Courthouse''. 1 page


Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: By 61 yeas to 36 nays (Vote No. 14), Senate passed S. 181, to amend title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and to modify the operation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to clarify that a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice that is unlawful under such Acts occurs each time compensation is paid pursuant to the discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, 8 pages


DTV Transition Date: Senate passed S. 328, to postpone the DTV transition date, 9 pages

By 66 yeas to 32 nays (Vote No. 31), Senate passed H.R. 2, to amend title XXI of the Social Security Act to extend and improve the Children's Health Insurance Program, 280 pages


HOUSE:

Amending chapter 22 of title 44, United States Code, popularly known as the Presidential Records Act, to establish procedures for the consideration of claims of constitutionally based privilege against disclosure of Presidential records: H.R. 35, to amend chapter 22 of title 44, United States Code, popularly known as the Presidential Records Act, to establish procedures for the consideration of claims of constitutionally based privilege against disclosure of Presidential records, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 359 yeas to 58 nays, Roll No. 5; 8 pages

Amending title 44, United States Code, to require information on contributors to Presidential library fundraising organizations:  H.R. 36, to amend title 44, United States Code, to require information on contributors to Presidential library fundraising organizations, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 388 yeas to 31 nays, Roll No. 6; 6 pages

The House passed H.R. 11, to amend title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and to modify the operation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to clarify that a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice that is unlawful under such Acts occurs each time compensation is paid pursuant to the discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, by a yea-and-nay vote of 247 yeas to 171 nays, Roll No. 9. 28 pages


Paycheck Fairness Act: The House passed H.R. 12, to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, by a recorded vote of 256 ayes to 163 noes, Roll No. 8. Subsequently, pursuant to the rule, the text of H.R. 12 was added as new matter at the end of H.R. 11, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. H.R. 12 was then laid on the table. 21 pages


Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009: The House passed H.R. 2, to amend title XXI of the Social Security Act to extend and improve the Children's Health Insurance Program, by a recorded vote of 289 ayes to 139 noes, Roll No. 16. 288 pages


TARP Reform and Accountability Act of 2009: The House passed H.R. 384, to reform the Troubled Assets Relief Program of the Secretary of the Treasury and ensure accountability under such Program, by a recorded vote of 260 ayes to 166 noes, Roll No. 26. Consideration of the measure began on Wednesday, January 14th and continued on Thursday, January 15th. 95 pages


American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009: The House passed H.R. 1, making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, by a yea-and-nay vote of 244 yeas to 188 nays, Roll No. 46. 680 pages


 

 

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