09.30.2009 0

72 Hours

  • On: 10/05/2009 09:30:55
  • In: Fiscal Responsibility
  • By Robert Romano

    If a growing number of House members that signed a discharge petition for H. Res. 554 have their way, every single bill in Congress will be held for least 72 business hours Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) prior to passage for a mandatory review by each house.

    The discharge petition was initiated by Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR2) and has obtained 182 signatures, including the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA3). Walden did so on the same day the Senate Finance Committee explicitly voted against allowing 72 hours to review ObamaCare once it was finally written.

    Really, 72 hours is the least Congress can offer the nation to review bills. This year, it has passed legislation with shocking efficiency. The speed has been so rapid that it may wind up costing taxpayers more than $4 trillion when the chugging spending locomotive finally comes to a stop.

    It’s bad politics, and adds to the public’s negative perception of Capitol Hill. In total, 83 percent of voters believe bills legislation should be posted online in final form and available for everyone to read before Congress votes on it, according to Rasmussen Reports.

    That is why Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson has signed a coalition letter with 22 other limited government and free market organizations, urging Congress to adopt H. Res. 554 and the 72-hour mandatory waiting period.

    The fact is, two of the most critical pieces of legislation passed this session, the trillion-dollar debt-riddled “stimulus” and economy-killing cap-and tax of carbon emissions, were passed after an average of 14.25 hours allowed for review.

    The trillion dollar “stimulus” and industrial emission reduction of 83 percent by 2050 were passed after only being allowed 12 hours and 16.5 hours to see it, respectively.

    The trouble is that both bills averaged 1250.5 pages, meaning a member of the House would have had to read at least 87 pages an hour, a daunting task except for speed-readers, who would also have had to understand the legalese that federal laws are written in. To date, no member has claimed that they understood either of these bills’ provisions entirely prior to passage.

    Not even the Congressional Budget Office can keep up with the lightning pace of legislation’s passage this year.

    The Waxman-Markey cap-and-tax ‘s CBO cost estimate on the final language of the bill passed on June 24th was not available until July 9th. The final cost-analysis of the “stimulus” was not revealed until a full day after the Senate had already voted on it.

    A general rule requiring 72 hours prior to voting would give representatives an opportunity to understand bills. Critically, it would give foundations, organizations, and the American people an opportunity to then advise their representatives on how best to vote—with a fuller understanding of the contents of the bill.

    It will also make it more likely that legislation will be defeated, and enable better long-term cost analyses of large bills to best examine the full impact on the nation’s startling debt, now almost $12 trillion and projected to double by 2020.

    Come 2010, with controversial votes on ObamaCare and the cap-and-tax in the Senate, opposition Republicans are being handed a golden issue against majority Democrats. The fact is, Congress is spending money so fast neither they nor the American people cannot even keep track of it.

    What remains to be seen is if Republicans can take advantage of it. Public opposition to the rapid spend-a-thon may be high, but unless members of the majority fear that their jobs are on the line, it will not stop.

    Which means that the American people will have to demand that H. Res 554 be passed. Then, members would be forced to scrutinize bills, and have an appropriate amount of time to hear their constituents.

    Every American has the right to read, analyze, and engage in informed debate on every single bill that comes through Congress. There should be no new laws, no new spending, in short, no taxation without information. 72 hours is the least Congress can offer itself so that the American people know what is being voted on by their nation’s representatives.

    Robert Romano is the ALG Senior News Editor.

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