Should Congress have to read every bill before they vote on it? (S1571)

Summary for Congressional bill S 1571 (114th):
  • Members of Congress must sign an affidavit saying that they read the entire bill, if they vote yes on the bill.
  • Requires the bill to be posted online 7 days before a final vote.
  • Requires advance public notice on scheduled votes in Congress.
  • Requires entire bills to be read to Congress.
  • Increases transparency and accountability in Congress.
In Depth:
  • Members of Congress must either be present (and listening) during the required reading in Congress or verify that they read it themselves.
  • Public notice of scheduled votes are at least 6 days before the Monday of the week the vote is scheduled.
  • Required reading of bills before Congress must happen when there is a quorum (enough) of members: 51 in the Senate & 218 in the House.
Vote Yes if you believe:
  • Bills should be read and understood by Congress before they vote on it. #TransparentGovernment
  • Congress should not be allowed to make last minute changes to bills. #TransparentGovernment
  • Increased transparency makes Congress more effective in passing bills. #TransparentGovernment
  • The public should have the opportunity to read bills and know when they are being voted on. #CitizenEngagement
Vote No if you believe:
  • Requiring entire bills to be read in Congress before voting makes Congress more ineffective and prolongs the legislation process. #IneffectiveCongress
  • This act does not actually force legislators to read the bills.

Congress.gov listing for S 1571

(This is the 1st draft of the summary for a bill in Polinav. Summary & In-Depth is non-partisan & Vote yes/no reasons are fact-checked. If you think something is wrong, should be added or deleted, comment below!)


 

There’s a lot to like about this bill: required public notice of votes, bills available to the public (and Congress) before a vote. But beyond that, I really don’t like this bill, even though I fundamentally agree that yes, Congress should be reading the bills that they vote on. I especially don’t like the idea of bills being read in its entirety in Congress.

The goal is admirable, though. This comes about because of things like:

  • Amendments being brought up for a bill that no one knew was coming
  • Bills coming up for a vote even before Congress has seen it.
  • Congress not knowing what bills are being voted on in a given day.

So, I agree with a lot in this bill. Bills that will be voted on, should be available to Congress and the public. Congress and the public should know  in advance what bills are being voted on. But don’t make Congress sit through entire readings of bills. Can you imagine Congress sitting through 1,000 pages of legalese? I wouldn’t want that on my worst enemy! And signing an affidavit saying that they’ve either sat through & listened attentively to the aforementioned reading or that they’ve read it on their own…that’s meaningless -__-.

What we need are things like One Subject at a Time Act (a single bill can only be about one topic) and enough time for their staff to look at the bill, so they can tell the Congressperson what the bill is about and how it concerns their constituency. It’s just not practical for Congress to sit through readings & meaningless for them to verify that they’ve read the entire bill.

We need a better functioning Congress, but this bill doesn’t quite do it for me. This bill would make Congress significantly worse in some ways. But I would want elements of this in a different bill!

I would want my representatives to vote NO on this bill!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s