Read The Damn Bill, Congress

In a press release explaining his opposition to the latest “bipartisan” budget bill coming out of Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) noted he and his colleagues “were given but a day to review this 1,582 page document.” Meanwhile in an interview with CNS News, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon)…

In a press release explaining his opposition to the latest “bipartisan” budget bill coming out of Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) noted he and his colleagues “were given but a day to review this 1,582 page document.”

Meanwhile in an interview with CNS News, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) laughed when he was asked whether he read the $1.1 trillion spending bill.

“Nobody did!” Blumenauer told the network.

Needless to say, this is problematic. If our legislative branch is going to blow $1.1 trillion between now and December (a figure which doesn’t include its entitlement spending or interest payments on its mushrooming debt), shouldn’t we at least expect our leaders to read the budget?

Indeed … there’s a reason that doesn’t happen, though.

“Republican” or Democrat, legislative leaders are all about maximizing vote counts – and minimizing outrage (especially on spending bills).  Blitzkrieg-fast floor votes are good for both objectives – helping herd cats while at the same time muzzling dissent by compressing the time frame available to examine and expose the flaws in legislation.

You better believe if lawmakers (and advocacy groups, reporters, etc.) were given a week to review a budget bill, they could find all sorts of stuff to rail against … including stuff inserted into the legislation for the sole purpose of securing votes.

Which is why for legislative leaders, it’s so important to ram these things through before anybody reads the fine print … or the big print.

This website has consistently opposed such tactics at the federal and state level.  We believe (with rare exceptions) lawmakers should be given at least a week to review the final draft of legislation – particularly omnibus spending bills like the one that breezed through the U.S. House last week.  Or U.S. President Barack Obama’s failed $787 billion “stimulus,” which was approved just thirteen hours after lawmakers were provided with its final 1,100-page draft.

We’ve always said lawmakers needed to do a better job confining government to core functions – which means identifying those functions (and expenses) that are unnecessary. A good first step in that process?

Reading the damn bills …

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Jackie Chiles January 20, 2014 at 10:23 am

Their staffs read the bill. Everyone knows congressional staffs are the real “brains” in Washington, whatever that’s worth.

The Colonel January 20, 2014 at 10:39 am

That’s some what true – however, and this is a big however, when they’ve got 6-8 hour to read the proposal before a vote, it is impossible for most staffs to read, assimilate, synopsize and discuss the merits of a 1,500 page bill. 2 years later we’re still “…see[ing] what’s in the bill…” to paraphrase Nancy.

Bill January 20, 2014 at 11:06 am

That is not how it works and everyone knows it, despite the fabrications of people like Sanford. While the entire bill may not be together until just hours before the vote. The various provisions of the bill do not come out all at once. Its not like some Congressman sits down and writes a bill by hand and then distributes it. Most of the bill is not controversial and everyone is aware of the controversial provisions before the bill is ever put together. Additionally, within hours of a bill coming out the Lobbyists have reviewed it with a fine tooth comb and are own the phone to the Congressmen.

Only people the leadership of the party and the lobbyist consider unimportant are unaware of the controversial provisions of any bill. Maybe that is Sanfrauds problem.

The Colonel January 20, 2014 at 11:24 am

That’s simply not true. Generally the sponsors of the bill will send executive summaries and synopsis around during the actual writing process. The bill that goes into committee for markup often bears little resemblance to the bill that comes out. Once the house or senate vote, the bill then goes to reconciliation to be toyed with again – most pork is stuck in at mark up and reconciliation. I’ve gone through the process a couple of times while working for Medicare. The final bill is almost never read because it isn’t finished until shortly before it’s voted on.

crap sandwich January 20, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Dana Milbank wrote an article that appeared in Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) about said bill. The Taxpayers for Common Sense group has gone through the bill and uncovered:

The bill gives somewhere between $62 – $119 million to the United States Enrichment Corp. , which is a government spin-off that has filed for bankruptcy.

It gives the Pentagon $950 million MORE THAN IT WANTED for a class of attack submarines.

It also awards the Pentagon $666 million for the non-defense related study of such diseases as Lou Gehrig’s and breast cancer.

The bill bestows $154 million dollars more than the Department of Energy requested for nuclear energy and $141 million more than requested for fossil fuel development. Do these industries need subsidy???

The Army Corp of Engineers got $44 million that the Administration had not recommended, which was seen by some as slipping in a “banned” earmark.

Tea Party groups opposed it, Democrats cried they hadn’t had a chance to read it, and Ted Cruz, under pressure from mainstream Republicans relented, and voted for it.

Sounds like situation normal in Congress; no true leadership, lots of posturing, taxpayers in need of more K-Y.

Smirks January 20, 2014 at 10:42 am

A vast majority of these politicians are paid to go to Congress to pass bills that are written for them. For all they care, they have a fancy title, “power,” and a fat check to cash as well as benefits, and all they have to do is jump when their masters tell them to. They are paid to do what they are told, not to read or write.

ThreePalms January 20, 2014 at 10:42 am

Mark Sanford may not have read the bill, but that would be on him. He acts as if someone simply wrote out the bill one day and called for a vote the next. That could not be further from the truth. All of the little shitheads in congress, with their staffs, and the swarm of lobbyists work on these bills for weeks before they are brought up for a vote. The process involves are trading this vote for that vote or this thing is in and that thing is out. Chumps like Sanford most likely do not have any influence at that level. If Sanford wants to know what’s going on with the budget bill he should put forth a little effort instead of pandering to an uninformed constituency in Charleston. Thanks so much Charleston republicans. Y’all suck.

Deo Vindice SC January 20, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Give me my check, asshole!

EJB January 21, 2014 at 7:03 am

I’m not buying that for one minute. These bills should go
through a process that from submittal to the whole body to vote should take at
least a week and bills of this size breadth should take two weeks. Even if the
congressmen did know what’s in it before they voted on it we the voting public
should have time to read it and let our representatives know what we think
about it.

Squishy123 January 20, 2014 at 10:52 am

This country has been fucked for decades, it’s just now that we’re starting to feel the effects. The next generation better enjoy their Chinese neighbors.

shifty henry January 20, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Thanks for setting me up with this one, even if it out-of-date —


Getting off of the Marine helicopter, President Bush tripped and hit his head on the bottom step. He went into a coma and was
given a room in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

After 20 years and constant care, one morning his nurse
noticed President Bush open his eyes. She then rushed to bring back his doctor. The doctor was amazed – this had to be a

“Mr. President , how do you feel? Tell us what you want,” said
the doctor.

“First,” said the President, “just tell me what in hell has

The doctor explained about his tripping and being in a coma
for 20 years.

President Bush exclaimed, “Oh, my God. What about the country? Is America still here? What about employment? What about inflation?”

The doctor tells him, “Unemployment rate is 3.5%. Inflation rate is 1.25%.”

“Thank God,” replies the President. “But you know, right now I am quite hungry. Is it possible to still get a Big Mac? And how much does it cost?”

The doctor replies, “Yes, there is good news. We’ll get you
a Big Mac, and it only costs 40 Pesos!”

CNSYD January 20, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Sanfraud is LAZY. Bills don’t fall out of the sky. He needs to get off his futon and converse with other members, other members’ staff, committee staffs, his own staff, etc. But don’t hold your breath on him doing that. He can just vote no and never bother to put forth any other effort than that.

IRT 1st District electing him, he had the magic R after his name. His opponent had the dreaded D. That’s all they needed to know.

shifty henry January 20, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Why doesn’t he have his “soul-mate” read and explain them to him on their long walks along the beach?

Hick Up January 20, 2014 at 8:31 pm

He hasn’t completed his Rosetta Stone course in “Spanglish” yet, so I don’t know if it would help.

shifty henry January 21, 2014 at 12:04 am

heh -heh- heh..!!

JRo January 20, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Require a 90% or better score on a comprehension test before a vote to pass a bill can be counted.

Deo Vindice SC January 20, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Hooray for Sanford, he’s the smart one in the bunch. Now Nikki is pissed. Her Puss wasn’t good enough! SC freek-a thon continues to no end.Vote republican!

EJB January 21, 2014 at 7:13 am

All these comments about whether the congressmen had a
chance to read the bill, they did, they didn’t, why the hell don’t WE get a
chance to read the bill. After all it is about us. Spending our tax dollars,
supposedly for us, to protect us, to educate us, to safety net us, can’t we
have a chance to read it, voice our opinions about it. Keeping things like this
from us is what helps them control us, I for one don’t agree with that at all.
I’m with Mr. Sanford on this one.

Nölff January 21, 2014 at 8:23 am

If I wrote a bill, I’d have a parade in my honor.


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