DownsizeDC.org
February 4, 2010
Read the Bills Act: They have 8 Months to get it right
By James Wilson

All of next year's Department funding bills are supposed to be passed and signed into law by October 1.

We believe members of Congress have time to put these bills together, and to READ them before they're passed. But they never will unless they're forced to.

This is why they should introduce and pass DownsizeDC.org's Read the Bills Act first. We encourage you to tell Congress to do this, and you may copy or borrow from this letter . . .

The fiscal year starts in October. This leaves you almost eight full months to . . .

* find ways to cut spending in each Department and eliminate needless and wasteful programs
* READ these funding bills
* and then pass them

This should be your priority. Do everything different from what Congress did last year when it . . .

* spent most of the year debating expansive NEW laws and bureaucracies
* increased spending everywhere
* did not have time to read any bill
* and passed funding bills months after they were due

If you remember, the 2010 fiscal year began Oct 1, yet . . .

* the 96-page Ag and FDA bill (H.R. 2997) passed (in final form) October 8
* the 1158-page Defense Authorization Act bill (H.R. 2647) passed October 22
* the 148-page Interior bill (H.R. 2996) passed October 29
* the 158-page Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 3326) passed December 19
* the 375 (small print)-page Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 3288) passed December 13

This last, trillion-dollar bill bundled all the other funding bills into into one - months after they were due and weeks after Congress decided to debate healthcare instead! It was passed in such a rush, no complete version is found online except the small-print enrolled version!

This is intolerable.

* If the people's representatives fail to pass spending bills by the start of the fiscal year, this tells us Congress is incompetent
* And if you spend our tax dollars without knowing how they'll be spent by reading the bills, this tells us you are negligent

Pass the Read the Bills Act, and then get to work on cutting government spending and passing the bills on time.

END LETTER

(NOTE: The Defense Authorization Act funds military hardware; The Defense Appropriations Act funds personnel, operations, and maintenance.)

You can send your letter using DownsizeDC.org's Educate the Powerful System.

We also invite you to add your blog or website to the Read the Bills Act Coalition. By joining, you help to spread awareness about the Read the Bills Act. In return, your site will be linked on our blog and be listed in a Downsizer-Dispatch with more than 29,300 readers. You can learn more and join the Coalition here.

Finally, in January the House passed 19 bill totaling 371 pages, and the Senate passed  passed 7 bills coming to 138 pages. You can see summaries of these bills and their length in the blog version of this Dispatch. (link)

James Wilson
Assistant Communications Director
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

BILLS PASSED IN CONGRESS

 The following are the bills the House and Senate passed from October 26 through October 30. 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 7 pages, 138 pages

Relief for Victims of the Earthquake in Haiti: Senate passed H.R. 4462, to accelerate the income tax benefits for charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti, clearing the measure for the President. 3 pages

Social Security Act: Senate passed S. 2949, to amend section 1113 of the Social Security Act to provide authority for increased fiscal year 2010 payments for temporary assistance to United States citizens returned from foreign countries, to provide necessary funding to avoid shortfalls in the Medicare cost-sharing program for low-income qualifying individuals. ("Emergency Aid to American Survivors of the Haiti Earthquake Act) 2 pages

Criminal History Background Checks: Senate passed S. 2950, to extend the pilot program for volunteer groups to obtain criminal history background checks. 1 page

Increasing the Statutory Limit on the Public Debt: By 60 yeas to 39 nays (Vote No. 14),Senate passed H.J. Res. 45, increasing the statutory limit on the public debt, as amended, 60 pages

Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act:  Senate passed S. 2799, to expand the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, to provide for the divestment of assets in Iran by State and local governments and other entities, to identify locations of concern with respect to transshipment, reexportation, or diversion of certain sensitive items to Iran. 54 pages

Lanham Act: Senate passed S. 2968, to make certain technical and conforming amendments to the Lanham Act. 14 pages

Small Business Act and Small Business Investment Act: Senate passed H.R. 4508, 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. 4 pages

HOUSE 19 bills, 371 pages

E.V. Wilkins Post Office Designation Act:  H.R. 3892, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 101 West Highway 64 Bypass in Roper, North Carolina, as the ``E.V. Wilkins Post Office'', by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 356 yeas to 1 nay, Roll No. 5; 2 pages

Sergeant Matthew L. Ingram Post Office Designation Act: H.R. 4139, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 7464 Highway 503 in Hickory, Mississippi, as the ``Sergeant Matthew L. Ingram Post Office''; 2 pages

Providing that claims of the United States to certain documents relating to Franklin Delano Roosevelt shall be treated as waived and relinquished in certain circumstances: S. 692, to provide that claims of the United States to certain documents relating to Franklin Delano Roosevelt shall be treated as waived and relinquished in certain circumstances; 4 pages

Government Accountability Office Improvement Act of 2009: H.R. 2646, to amend title 31, United States Code, to enhance the oversight authorities of the Comptroller General; 6 pages

Enacting certain laws relating to national and commercial space programs as title 51, United States Code, ``National and Commercial Space Programs'': H.R. 3237, to enact certain laws relating to national and commercial space programs as title 51, United States Code, ``National and Commercial Space Programs''. 147 pages

BLM Contract Extension Act:  H.R. 3759, amended, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to grant economy-related contract extensions of certain timber contracts between the Secretary of the Interior and timber purchasers; 6 pages

Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act: H.R. 725, amended, to protect Indian arts and crafts through the improvement of applicable criminal proceedings; 12 pages

Congresswoman Jan Meyers Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 4095, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 9727 Antioch Road in Overland Park, Kansas, as the ``Congresswoman Jan Meyers Post Office Building''; 2 pages

Accelerating the income tax benefits for charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti: H.R. 4462, amended, to accelerate the income tax benefits for charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti; 3 pages

Amending the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Securing the Cities Initiative of the Department of Homeland Security: H.R. 2611, amended, to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize the Securing the Cities Initiative of the Department of Homeland Security; 4 pages

Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Act:  The House passed H.R. 3254, to approve the Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Agreement, by a yea-and-nay vote of 254 yeas to 158 nays, Roll No. 12. 34 pages

Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act:  The House passed H.R. 3342, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Commissioner of Reclamation, to develop water infrastructure in the Rio Grande Basin, and to approve the settlement of the water rights claims of the Pueblos of Nambe, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, and Tesuque, by a yea-and-nay vote of 249 yeas to 153 nays, Roll No. 13. 58 pages

White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act:  The House passed H.R. 1065, to resolve water rights claims of the White Mountain Apache Tribe in the State of Arizona, by a yea-and-nay vote of 262 yeas to 147 nays, Roll No. 14. 64 pages

Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act: Agreed to the Senate amendment to H.R. 730, to strengthen efforts in the Department of Homeland Security to develop nuclear forensics capabilities to permit attribution of the source of nuclear material, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 397 yeas to 10 nays, Roll No. 16; 10 pages

Private First Class Garfield M. Langhorn Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 3250, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1210 West Main Street in D32Riverhead, New York, as the ``Private First Class Garfield M. Langhorn Post Office Building'' 2 pages

Emergency Aid to American Survivors of the Haiti Earthquake Act: S. 2949, to amend section 1113 of the Social Security Act to provide authority D48for increased fiscal year 2010 payments for temporary assistance to United States citizens returned from foreign countries and to provide necessary funding to avoid shortfalls in the Medicare cost-sharing program for low-income qualifying individuals. 2 pages

Providing for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958: H.R. 4508, to provide for an additional temporary extension of programs under the Small Business Act and the Small Business Investment Act of 1958, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 410 yeas to 4 nays, Roll No. 24 4 pages

Idaho Wilderness Water Facilities Act: The House passed H.R. 4474, to authorize the continued use of certain water diversions located on National Forest System land in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in the State of Idaho, by a yea-and-nay vote of 415 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 22. 5 pages

Castle Nugent National Historic Site Establishment Act of 2010: The House passed H.R. 3726, to establish the Castle Nugent National Historic Site at St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands, by a yea-and-nay vote of 240 yeas to 175 nays, Roll No. 23. 4 pages

Filed under Downsizer Dispatch, RTBA
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