Sunday, July 19, 2009

An idea whose time has come

Hat tip: Prairie Pundit.

How can lawmakers vote on something so important without a thorough understanding of what's in it?

Not the everyday "We hereby rename this post office in honor of so-and-so" or "We officially declare this Goldfish Month." The big things, like an almost $800 billion stimulus plan, or an energy package that Politico said "would transform the country's economy and industrial landscape."

Actually reading such legislation, as the founders might say, should be self-evident.

But apparently not. So a little nudge is in order, especially with health-care reform looming.

One nudger is Colin Hanna, a former Chester County commissioner and president of the conservative advocacy group Let Freedom Ring. He has begun a campaign ( that asks members of the House and Senate to promise the following:

"I . . . pledge to my constituents and to the American people that I will not vote to enact any health-care reform package that:

"1) I have not read, personally, in its entirety; and,

"2) Has not been available, in its entirety, to the American people on the Internet for at least 72 hours, so that they can read it too."

Let Freedom Ring isn't alone. A consortium of liberal and good-government groups is backing, and a libertarian group,, essentially wants the two planks of Hanna's pledge enacted as federal law.

I recall from my civics classes that there used to be three readings of any bill that was introduced before it could be passed by the Congress.   The bill would actually be read out loud, because it was not unheard of for a member of Congress to be illiterate!

I think we would be well served if every bill under consideration had to be read, out loud, on the floor, before voting could take place.  It would, at the very least, limit the amount of damage any session of Congress could do.

And ideally, I'd like to see a rule passed declaring no one could vote on a bill unless he had been present during the entire reading of that bill.

If it's not worth sitting through, it's not worth enacting into law.

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