DownsizeDC.org
December 3, 2009
Read the Bills and Healthcare: When Congress writes lengthy, complex bills
By James Wilson

The 2,000-page healthcare bills before Congress underscore the importance of the Read the Bills Act (RTBA).

Let's continue to pressure Congress to pass it.

Feel free to borrow from or copy my letter . . .

James Madison, Father of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist 62: "“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws be made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa62.htm

Madison was right. What's the point in electing members of Congress at all, if they don't even understand the bills they pass?

Some say that RTBA is "impractical" in our modern, complex economy. But it's only impractical if Congress's goal is to pass as much legislation as possible. But Congress's purpose should be to protect our lives and liberty under the Constitution, which would actually mean less legislation, not more.

It is the very complexity of our society that makes Congress unqualified to regulate every aspect of it. While passing laws against force and fraud is an appropriate role of government, Congress simply doesn't have the knowledge or expertise to competently impose sweeping regulations of every industry.

As economist Dr. Gary wolfram points out regarding the healthcare bill before the Senate . . . http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=34582

  • any 2,000-page bill is going to have unintended consequences
  • no Senator will read or understand it all
  • it will be years before anyone can fully understand the repercussions

Because of this, the healthcare bill will create economic uncertainty, which discourages business expansion and economic growth. In addition, it will force businesses to spend more on lawyers, accountants, and other compliance costs - and these increased expenses mean higher prices for you and me.

In contrast, the requirements of the Read the Bills Act will actually lead to practical results . . .

  • it will not obstruct passage of necessary, Constitutional legislation
  • by requiring that bills be read before a quorum in Congress, Congress will be more selective on what bills will be worth pursuing
  • the bills Congress does consider will be shorter
  • those who vote for a bill will be required to sign an affidavit affirming they have read and understood it, which will mean bills will be written more clearly
  • by requiring the posting online of these shorter, clearer bills, the people will be able to make better-informed opinions on them

James Madison had it right. Representative government is to no avail if Congress passes lengthy and incoherent laws. Please introduce the Read the Bills Act before you pass any healthcare reform bill.

END OF LETTER

Please send your message using DownsizeDC.org's Educate the Powerful System.  https://secure.downsizedc.org/etp/campaigns/27

We also invite you to add your website or blog to the Read the Bills Act Coalition. Membership will help build awareness about RTBA, and in return we will list your site on our main page. You can learn more at the DownsizeDC.org site: http://www.downsizedc.org/coalition

Today we welcome 1 new member to the Coalition:

Finally, in November the House and Senate passed a total of 55 bills amounting to 2,988 pages. You can see what bills were passed below my signature.

James Wilson
Assistant Communications Director
DownsizeDC.org

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: 19 bills, 464 pages

Unemployment Compensation Extension Act: By a unanimous vote of 98 yeas (Vote No. 334), Senate passed H.R. 3548, to amend the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 to provide for the temporary availability of certain additional emergency unemployment compensation, as amended, 36 pages

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act:  By 71 yeas to 28 nays (Vote No. 340), Senate passed H.R. 2847, making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, and Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, agreeing to the committee-reported amendment in the nature of a substitute, as amended, 104 pages

Federal Executive Board Authorization Act: Senate passed S. 806, to provide for the establishment, administration, and funding of Federal Executive Boards, after withdrawing the committee amendment in the nature of a substitute, 12 pages

Board of Directors of the Office of Compliance: Senate passed S. 1860, to permit each current member of the Board of Directors of the Office of Compliance to serve for 3 terms. 4 pages

John `Bud' Hawk Post Office:  Senate passed H.R. 955, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 10355 Northeast Valley Road in Rollingbay, Washington, as the ``John `Bud' Hawk Post Office'', clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

Sergeant Marcus Mathes Post Office: Senate passed H.R. 1516, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 37926 Church Street in Dade City, Florida, as the ``Sergeant Marcus Mathes Post Office'', clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

In Honor of former Congressman Wesley ``Wes'' Watkins: Senate passed H.R. 1713, to name the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory of the Department of Agriculture in Lane, Oklahoma, and the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 310 North Perry Street in Bennington, Oklahoma, in honor of former Congressman Wesley ``Wes'' Watkins, clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

Akron Veterans Memorial Post Office: Senate passed H.R. 2004, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 4282 Beach Street in Akron, Michigan, as the ``Akron Veterans Memorial Post Office'', clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

John J. Shivnen Post Office Building: Senate passed H.R. 2215, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 140 Merriman Road in Garden City, Michigan, as the ``John J. Shivnen Post Office Building'', clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

Johnny Grant Hollywood Post Office Building:  Senate passed H.R. 2760, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1615 North Wilcox Avenue in Los Angeles, California, as the ``Johnny Grant Hollywood Post Office Building'', clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

Conrad DeRouen, Jr. Post Office: Senate passed H.R. 2972, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 115 West Edward Street in Erath, Louisiana, as the ``Conrad DeRouen, Jr. Post Office'', clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

Lim Poon Lee Post Office: Senate passed H.R. 3119, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 867 Stockton Street in San Francisco, California, as the ``Lim Poon Lee Post Office'', clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Memorial Post Office: Senate passed H.R. 3386, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1165 2nd Avenue in Des Moines, Iowa, as the ``Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Memorial Post Office'', clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

Rex E. Lee Post Office Building: Senate passed H.R. 3547, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 936 South 250 East in Provo, Utah, as the ``Rex E. Lee Post Office Building'', clearing the measure for the President. 4 pages

Relocation Expenses Test Programs for Federal Employees: Senate passed S. 1825, to extend the authority for relocation expenses test programs for Federal employees, 4 pages

Airline Flight Crew Technical Corrections Act: Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions was discharged from further consideration of S. 1422, to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to clarify the eligibility requirements with respect to airline flight crews, and the bill was then passed, 6 pages

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act: By unanimous vote of 100 yeas (Vote No. 348), Senate passed H.R. 3082, making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, as amended, 75 pages

Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act: By unanimous vote of 98 yeas (Vote No. 352), Senate passed S. 1963, to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide assistance to caregivers of veterans, to improve the provision of health care to veterans, after taking action on the following amendment: 177 pages

Human Rights Enforcement Act: Senate passed S. 1472, to establish a section within the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice to enforce human rights laws, to make technical and conforming amendments to criminal and immigration laws pertaining to human rights violations, after agreeing to the committee amendments. 6 pages


HOUSE: 36 bills, 2524 pages

Military Spouses Residency Relief Act: S. 475, to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to guarantee the equity of spouses of military personnel with regard to matters of residency; 8 pages

Veterans Retraining Act of 2009: H.R. 1168, as amended, to amend chapter 42 of title 38, United States Code, to provide certain veterans with employment training assistance, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 356 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 832; 6 pages

Authorizing a major medical facility project at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Walla Walla, Washington: S. 509, to authorize a major medical facility project at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Walla Walla, Washington, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 352 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 834; 2 pages

Directing the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in the southern Colorado region: H.R. 174, to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a national cemetery for veterans in the southern Colorado region; 6 pages

Veterans' Small Business Assistance and Servicemembers Protection Act of 2009:  H.R. 3949, amended, to amend title 38, United States Code, and the Servicemember Civil Relief Act, to make certain improvements in the laws relating to benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 382 yeas to 2 nays, Roll No. 835; 36 pages

Max J. Beilke Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic Designation Act: H.R. 3157, to name the Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Alexandria, Minnesota, as the ``Max J. Beilke Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic'', by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 398 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 839; 4 pages

Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009: The House passed H.R. 3639, to amend the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 to establish an earlier effective date for various consumer protections, by a recorded vote of 331 ayes to 92 noes, Roll No. 851. 10 pages

Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009: Agreed to the Senate amendment to H.R. 3548, to amend the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 to provide for the temporary availability of certain additional emergency unemployment compensation, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 403 yeas to 12 nays, Roll No. 859; 8 pages

World War I Memorial and Centennial Act of 2009: H.R. 1849, amended, to designate the Liberty Memorial at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, as the National World War I Memorial and to establish the World War I centennial commission to ensure a suitable observance of the centennial of World War I, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 418 yeas to 1 nay, Roll No. 862; 18 pages

Cesar E. Chavez Post Office Designation Act: S. 748, to redesignate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2777 Logan Avenue in San Diego, California, as the ``Cesar E. Chavez Post Office''; 2 pages

American Medical Isotopes Production Act of 2009: H.R. 3276, amended, to promote the production of molybdenum-99 in the United States for medical isotope production, and to condition and phase out the export of highly enriched uranium for the production of medical isotopes, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 400 yeas to 17 nays, Roll No. 863. 19 pages

Small Business Disaster Readiness and Reform Act of 2009: H.R. 3743, amended, to amend the Small Business Act to improve the disaster relief programs of the Small Business Administration; 12 pages

Corporal Joseph A. Tomci Post Office Building Designation Act:  H.R. 3788, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 3900 Darrow Road in Stow, Ohio, as the ``Corporal Joseph A. Tomci Post Office Building'', by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 415 yeas to 1 nay, Roll No. 867 2 pages

Jack F. Kemp Post Office Building Designation Act: S. 1211, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 60 School Street, Orchard Park, New York, as the ``Jack F. Kemp Post Office Building'', by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 408 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 868. 2 pages

Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2009: The House passed H.R. 2868, to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to extend, modify, and recodify the authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security to enhance security and protect against acts of terrorism against chemical facilities, by a recorded vote of 230 ayes to 193 noes, Roll No. 875. Consideration of the measure began on Thursday, November 5th. 182 pages

Amending the Small Business Act to improve the Microloan Program:  H.R. 3737, amended, to amend the Small Business Act to improve the Microloan Program, and for other purposes by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 405 yeas to 23 nays, Roll No. 876; 12 pages

Small Business Microlending Expansion Act of 2009: H.R. 1838, amended, to amend the Small Business Act to modify certain provisions relating to women's business centers, and for other purposes by a \2/3\ recorded vote of 428 ayes to 4 noes, Roll No. 877; 10 pages

Small Business Development Centers Modernization Act of 2009: H.R. 1845, to amend the Small Business Act to modernize Small Business Development Centers, and for other purposes, by a \2/3\ recorded vote of 412 ayes to 20 noes, Roll No. 878; 15 pages

Affordable Health Care for America Act: The House passed H.R. 3962, to provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, by a recorded vote of 220 ayes to 215 noes, Roll No. 887. 1016 pages

W. Hazen Hillyard Post Office Building Designation Act:  H.R. 3767, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 170 North Main Street in Smithfield, Utah, as the ``W. Hazen Hillyard Post Office Building'', by a \2/3\ recorded vote of 368 ayes with none voting ``no'', Roll No. 891; 4 pages

Extending the authority for relocation expenses test programs for Federal employees: S. 1825, to extend the authority for relocation expenses test programs for Federal employees; 4 pages

Patricia D. McGinty-Juhl Post Office Building Designation Act: H.R. 3539, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 427 Harrison Avenue in Harrison, New Jersey, as the ``Patricia D. McGinty-Juhl Post Office Building'', by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 367 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 890; 4 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: H.R. 1506, 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

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Post Office Designation Act: S. 1314, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 630 Northeast Killingsworth Avenue in Portland, Oregon, as the ``Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Post Office'', by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 373 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 889. 4 pages

Clean Hull Act of 2009:  H.R. 3618, amended, to provide for implementation of the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships, 2001; 24 pages

Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2009: H.R. 3360, amended, to amend title 46, United States Code, to establish requirements to ensure the security and safety of passengers and crew on cruise vessels, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 416 yeas to 4 nays, Roll No. 892; 2 page

H. Dale Cook Federal Building and United States Courthouse Designation Act: H.R. 3305, to designate the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 224 South Boulder Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the ``H. Dale Cook Federal Building and United States Courthouse''; 4 pages

Amending the Small Business Act to improve SCORE:  H.R. 1839, amended, to amend the Small Business Act to improve SCORE; 5 pages

Expanding Entrepreneurship Act of 2009: H.R. 1842, amended, to amend the Small Business Act to improve the Small Business Administration's entrepreneurial development programs; 6 pages

Small Business Early-Stage Investment Act of 2009: H.R. 3738, amended, to amend the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 to establish a program for the Small Business Administration to provide financing to support early-stage small businesses in targeted industries; 12 pages

Small Business Health Information Technology Financing Act: H.R. 3014, amended, to amend the Small Business Act to provide loan guarantees for the acquisition of health information technology by eligible professionals in solo and small group practices; 7 pages

Reserve Officers Association Modernization Act of 2009: S. 1599, to amend title 36, United States Code, to include in the Federal charter of the Reserve Officers Association leadership positions newly added in its constitution and bylaws, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 425 yeas with none voting ``nay'', Roll No. 904. 2 pages

Amending the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate segments of the Molalla River in Oregon, as components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System: The House passed H.R. 2781, to amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate segments of the Molalla River in Oregon, as components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and for other purposes, by a yea-and-nay vote of 292 yeas to 133 nays, Roll No. 905. 4 pages

Native American Business Development Enhancement Act of 2009: H.R. 1834, amended, to D1361amend the Small Business Act to expand and improve the assistance provided to Indian tribe members, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, by a \2/3\ yea-and-nay vote of 343 yeas to 55 nays, Roll No. 910. 12 pages

Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009: The House passed H.R. 3961, to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to reform the Medicare SGR payment system for physicians, by a recorded vote of 243 ayes to 183 noes, Roll No. 909. 54 pages

Permitting each current member of the Board of Directors of the Office of Compliance to serve for 3 terms: The House agreed to discharge and agree to S. 1860, to permit each current member of the Board of Directors of the Office of Compliance to serve for 3 terms. 2 pages


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